The Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition gave The Pueblo Chieftain and reporter Peter Roper its 2018 ADA Access Media award during the organization’s annual award luncheon in Denver on Oct. 3.
The coalition is an advocacy group whose mission is to protect the rights of the disabled and expand their opportunities.
Roper was recognized for the newspaper’s coverage of the contentious debate in 2017 over plans to change the federal Medicaid program into a block grant to the states.
That’s a change that disabled people fear will lead to a loss in the health-care services that let them lead independent lives outside of institutions. While the disabled make up a small portion of Medicaid recipients, they use about 25 percent of its total dollars on health services and equipment.
Kristen Castor, the coalition’s advocate in Southern Colorado, nominated Roper and The Chieftain for the organization’s media award. She credited the newspaper with accurately explaining the concerns of the disabled to the public during a time when disabled advocates were being arrested in lawmakers’ offices and conducting other kinds of protest.
The other 2018 award winners were attorney Allison Neswood, Denver City Auditor Tim O’Brien, and attorney Joe Beaver.
For people like Louis Apodaca, RTD’s Access-A-Ride program has been a lifeline. Apodaca started to use it after her wheelchair got stuck at a bus stop, and the fire department had to rescue her.
“The bus stops, a lot of times, are on gravel or on grass or mud,” Apodaca, a resident of Denver’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. Continue reading “Proposed Fare Increase For RTD’s Access-A-Ride Worries Those Who Use It”
Given that 41 percent of Pueblo County residents get Medicaid health insurance, local hospital officials and health care advocates wanted Gov. John Hickenlooper, Sen. Michael Bennet and local lawmakers to know Friday there is much at stake as Republican senators write a new federal health care policy behind closed doors.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is presiding over the group of Republicans writing the bill and said he hopes to get it passed by the GOP-controlled Senate by July 4 — without amendments.
Bennet, a Democrat, said the closed-door secrecy was frustrating some Republican senators too.
“They’re so ashamed of what they’re doing they won’t even let all their Republican colleagues see that they are doing,” he claimed.
It was nearly all Democratic lawmakers that met with the Pueblo health care providers Friday, except for state Sen. Larry Crowder, R-Alamosa. Also in the group were Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, and state Reps. Daneya Esgar and Dan Valdez.
October 19, 2018
Regional Transportation District
ATTN: RTD Board of Directors’
1600 Blake Street
Denver, CO 80202
Dear Board Members:
Congratulations on the passage of fare rate changes for 2019. Those of us signing on to this letter are appreciative of the implementation of the low-income fare, which will provide confidence to the community showing Regional Transportation District (RTD) is serious about providing public transit to all sectors of our public. The work of RTD staff, alongside the Pass Program Working Group (PPWG), was instrumental in providing options during this process that were based on extensive discussions, research, and debate.
Today, we are writing to express concern that the fares you have approved for para-transit service Access-a-Ride (AAR) have not been properly vetted in the same way. Our understanding is that PPWG was not asked to review AAR rates because it did not fall into the pass program category. The fact is, the AAR program is nearly 10% of RTD’s budget and needs careful analysis to ensure that the service is provided – to qualified users and efficient funds are available to run the program, in a cost effective and responsible manner.
With this formal request, we ask that RTD create a task force/working group to address the operations of AAR.
Like PPWG, this group should include representatives across the community including users of the system. Specialty areas should include but are not limited to:
RTD has demonstrated by implementing PPWG, that a collaboration of community and transit professionals can help you address important issues.
We are confident that a task force examination of access-a-ride will help improve delivery and efficiency of this critical program.
Thank you for your consideration of our request.
If you have any questions, please contact me, Julie Reiskin, Executive Director of the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition at email@example.com.
Open/Download the full version of the letter:
Everyone that works in the realm of disabled parking knows that we have a problem…there are too many placards out there –7 for each legitimate user at latest estimate. People often assume that the abuse is due to everyone wanting the “good spaces” that are close to the building. That may be a desirable feature, but a much more desirable feature is that in some jurisdictions, people with a placard or disability plates do not need to pay for parking. As parking becomes more expensive and harder to find, the temptation to use a disability placard inappropriately grows.
Why is disabled parking free? It stems from the fact that often governments and parking lot owners do not make the payment system accessible to all. To be accessible it must be something that one can reach even if one uses a wheelchair or is of short stature. It also has to be accessible to someone without use of fingers or hands. Lowered meters with phone payment options are available in other cities but Colorado has not widely adopted this requirement. The ideal situation would be accessible meters so people with disabilities can park where everyone else parks and pay like anyone else. Equality means doing what everyone else does….even paying for parking. However, until the method of payment is accessible, payment cannot be required.
Only a small subset of people that require accessible parking actually have a problem using a meter. People that use wheelchairs and are unable to stand at all cannot use a meter. People with no hand use or finger coordination cannot use most meters. People of short stature cannot reach meters. Most others with disabilities can use meters. Anyone who simply cannot walk a long distance, people that use wheelchairs but can stand, and people with one good hand can all use a meter.
HB 18-1285 Remuneration-Exempt Disability Parking Placard was an attempt to create a second specialized placard to distinguish individuals who truly cannot use a meter so only those individuals would be eligible for free parking in accessible spaces. Others would still be able to park close, use the wide spaces, etc., but would be expected to pay in metered zones.
Individuals will be qualified for the new placard for the following reasons
Unfortunately this definition excludes one group of people unable to reach a meter. CCDC lobbied for a modification of the 3rd qualifier above to read “Ability to reach or access a parking meter due to disability”. However our proposed amendment to make the bill accomplish the goal was rejected.
This law is permissive meaning that local governments are free to enact it or not. CCDC believes that it would be discriminatory to give free parking to only some people that cannot reach a meter based not on function but on whether or not they use a wheelchair. Some people that use wheelchairs can stand. Some people have wheelchairs that elevate their seats. On the other hand others walk but due to small size are not able to reach a meter or pay slots. Because the Americans’ with Disabilities Act requires state and local governments to avoid discrimination, even though this is a state law, local governments could be at risk for litigation if they implement the law as written. The ADA is a federal law and federal law supersedes state law.
We do not know at this time if any municipalities are planning to use this new provision. Below are some frequently asked questions about the law:
When will the Law go into effect? January 1st 2019
Will the new law cover the entire State? Yes, each municipality will decide whether or not they will change their rules to match the new law.
How can I get a new placard? You do not need a new placard, but an additional placard. There is no application for this additional placard at this time. Information on obtaining and renewing a placard or plate is here.
That is likely the same place the new applications will be when they are ready.
What are the rules about disabled parking? The state has a brochure outlining the rules.
If you have strong feelings about whether or not your local government should implement this law reach out to your city council or county commission. CCDC believes the idea is right but that it must apply to ALL disability types that cannot reach or use a meter. As a cross-disability organization we cannot support leaving out one disability type. We also believe there should be an “other” category to account for some condition that no one has thought of that might not fit on any list. The exemption from payment should be based on disability related function-the inability to use meters or pay structures.
CCDC also has concerns about education and outreach to the disability community. The bill was silent on this matter and we are concerned that if this is implemented in a community the people that are used to free parking would not know that they need to get a new placard. There must be adequate outreach to affected individuals with adequate time for them to obtain the secondary placard. We are also concerned about how people that use plates and do not use (and cannot use) placards will be accommodated in this process.
CCDC agrees that there is a problem with abuse, and believes that the free parking is a major culprit of the abuse. CCDC would rather see enforcement of pay structures including but not limited to meters that are simply accessible to all drivers and that allows all drivers to take responsibility for payment.
2PM – 4PM
Join us in welcoming members of ADAPT back to Denver, CO, the HOME OF ADAPT.
Featuring speakers from our community.
Embassy Suite’s Ballroom
14th Ave. and Stout St.
Preview screening of a feature documentary on the history of ADAPT, including rare footage and never-seen interviews with ADAPT activist from across the country.
To sponsor the ADAPT Homecoming, please contact Jackie Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org and Dawn Russell at email@example.com, or call 303-884-1471. Thank You!
For more information, click to open or download the official flyer:
New story on October 19, 2018, quoting Advocacy Coordinator Michelle McHenry-Edrington and Legal Program Director Kevin Williams regarding the appropriate use of service animals on our RTD vehicles. View attached link to see the story. See the story that aired on Fox 31 News on October 19, 2018. Michelle and Edgar are stars!
Election season is here and at the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition (CCDC) we have one message. VOTE AS IF YOU LIFE DEPENDS ON IT….BECAUSE IT DOES. CCDC does not endorse or oppose any candidate.
We say NOTHING ABOUT US WITHOUT US…EVER! In order to participate we must exercise our right and responsibility to vote. Democracy is not a spectator sport and only works when we participate. We have no excuse not to vote. Our ballots come in the mail. If we want to go to a vote center we can, there are accessible voting booths at the voting center. If we need help understanding or filling out our ballots we can get that help from your local voting center, a friend you trust, or an advocate (including CCDC staff).
This guide will do the following:
We are voting for a new Governor. The Democratic candidate is Jared Polis and the Republican Candidate is Walker Stapleton . Both are currently holding other elected positions. Jared Polis is a congressman for the second congressional district and Walker Stapleton is our state Treasurer. CCDC has given both candidates our expectations for a new Governor
The Governor gets to decide who runs every state agency including Health Care Policy and Financing, Human Services, Labor and Employment, etc. If there are changes to the federal Medicaid program a Governor might be able to decide if we accept a block grant for Medicaid—something CCDC strongly opposes. How much a Governor supports Medicaid is important to us.
Governors also are able to appoint people to boards and commissions including rule making bodies like the Medical Services Board, the Human Services Board, etc. We want a Governor that will listen to us about appointments and will appoint knowledgeable advocates who have direct experience with the various systems. We want people appointed that are connected with the community that will seek out diverse opinions and make an effort to listen to our community.
The Governor is the CEO of the state and sets the tone with state agencies. The Governor decides if state agencies are there to support people with disabilities to full participants in the state, or treat us as if we are errant children, in need of protection, punitive measures to keep us compliant, or both. A Governor can choose to keep an open door to hear us if we have problems with state agencies or can assume that longtime agency staff always know best and stonewall any efforts we make raise issues.
We will also vote for Congressional Candidates in all 7 congressional districts. Here are the CCDC requests of our Congressional Delegation. Research candidates directly—do not just rely on 30 second TV commercials.
We also get to elect a new Secretary of State, Treasurer, and Attorney General. All of these positions are important. You can read more about these races here!
Many people will get to elect a Colorado Legislator —all seats are up for re-election but some areas do not have two candidates. Many Colorado Senate seats are up as well, and in some tight districts a few votes might determine control of the Senate. Never doubt that your vote counts. You should be able to have a personal conversation with anyone running in your district. To find out who is running look here. Reach out to candidates in your district and ask them about their disability platform. Ask if they will support Medicaid, and expand programs that allow us to control our lives such as Consumer Directed Attendant Supports. We want consumer/participant direction for all Long Term Services and Supports. Ask if they will support Medicaid Buy-In allowing us to work and get out of poverty. Many of the issues outlined on our Gubernatorial paper are relevant to a Representative or Senator. Most important, ask them to make a commitment that if someone asks them to run a bill that will affect people with disabilities that they will ask the person if people from the disability community have been involved with the bill. If the answer is no then please do not support the bill unless or until they have fully involved our community. Real and Meaningful engagement of people with disabilities at all levels of government must be a priority.
People with disabilities have the right to vote, the right to accessibility and the right to vote in private. Disability Law Colorado is the lead organization that protects these rights. If you have a concern about access to your ballot, or if someone says you are not allowed to vote, please contact Jennifer Levin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-722-0300. Their website has complete information on our voting rights.
As always there are a lot of ballot initiatives.
Below are the ones where there are possible effects on disability and where appropriate, the CCDC position. These are statewide ballot initiatives. There are local initiatives all over the state, such as a measure in Denver to fund mental health treatment. CCDC does not take positions on local issues but encourage you to listen to all sides, read the proposal, talk to people you trust and vote. Here are the statewide ballot initiatives that have a disability component or are about overall governance:
Amendment V: Lower the age from 25 to 21 for someone to be a state legislator or senator. CCDC has no position on this issue.
Amendments Y and Z: Both of these amendments change how go about redistricting to make the process less partisan. Y is for congressional (federal level) redistricting and Z for (state level) legislators. There will be a process to select commissioners using specific criteria and there will be an equal number of commissioners from each major political party and independent/unaffiliated weapons. When the census is taken and the population changes we get more or fewer congressional seats (probably more). This requires the congressional districts be redrawn. This is a very political process because the parties each want to use the district boundaries for their advantage. The same process has to happen at the state level. In the past partisan processes have caused districts to be drawn based on race keeping people of color in certain areas which reduces the power of the minority vote. The same thing can happen with lower-income communities—keeping everyone living in poverty in one area to dilute the power of the low-income vote. It is in the interest of everyone to have fair elections and to have districts be created using non-partisan, objective criteria. CCDC SUPPORTS THESE AMENDMENTS.
Amendment A: Removes language in the Colorado constitution that allows slavery and involuntary servitude to be used as punishment for someone convicted of a crime. Because many people in jails and prisons are people with disabilities, and because we are a social justice organization, CCDC SUPPORTS THIS AMENDMENT. It is outrageous that slavery of any form is still allowed under any circumstances.
Amendment 73: Funding for public schools which increases funding for K-12 education through an income tax increase for people with incomes over $150,000 and setting a property tax assessment at 7% for residential properties and 24% for non-residential properties. This is reduction of current property taxes. The measure also encourages the legislature to change the school funding formula. The measure does require the Colorado Department of Education to review how the funds are spent and identify best practices. The legislature should review the funding formula ten years after implementation and make modifications if necessary. CCDC agrees that schools must be well funded. CCDC is not an expert in educational financing measures or taxes and therefore is not taking a position on this bill. For a liberal analysis check out the Bell Policy Center and for a conservative analysis check out the Independence Institute.
Amendment 74 requires a state or local government to compensate a property owner if a law or regulation reduces the fair market value of his or her property. CCDC has no position on this proposal.
Amendment 75 allows candidates to accept 5 times the current campaign contribution limits if any candidate in the race loans or gives his or her campaign more than $1 million. The purpose is to level the playing field between a candidate with personal wealth and his or her opponent. CCDC has no position on this proposal. CCDC generally has concern about the influence of money in politics.
Proposition 109 changes Colorado statutes to require the state to borrow up to $3.5 billion in 2019 to fund 66 highway projects and directs the state to pay back the bonds without raising taxes. It also limits how much interest can be paid back and sets a timeline of 20 years for repayment. CCDC STRONGLY OPPOSES THIS PROPOSAL. Our two primary reasons for opposition are:
Proposition 110 authorizes a slight increase in sales and use tax from 2.9% to 3.52% for transportation projects for 20 years and allows the state to borrow up to 6 billion for transportation projects to be paid back over 20 years. The funding would be allocated as follows
45% to the state
40% to local governments
15% to multimodal transportation projects
CCDC STRONGLY SUPPORTS THIS PROPOSAL because the funds will also fix the highways, which are deteriorating but will not leave out transit projects. Local governments can prioritize their needs as transportation needs vary widely around the state. This funding will not be taken out of another source, such as Medicaid or education. This is a sustainable and inclusive solution that will enable our state to meet our diverse transportation needs to have safe and usable roads and to continue to expand transit options.
Proposition 111 reduces the cost of a payday loan to 36 annual percentage rate and expands what is considered to be a deceptive trade practices for payday lending. Payday loans are usually small loans with hefty repayment fees that do not require a credit check. They are popular with low wage workers and people on fixed incomes. People can get in trouble because the fees are so high and most people that use these loans are low-income and did not have the money in the first place and end up in perpetual debt. 36% is still a very high interest rate. Opponents say that this could cause the payday loan industry to stop doing business in Colorado. CCDC SUPPORTS THIS PROPOSAL. If an industry is going to leave the state because they cannot make money with a 36% interest rate that means that they are currently getting much more. If companies need more than 36% interest leave the state that is OK. It would be a better use of our collective time and energy to focus on fair lending practices, reduce income inequality, increase wages, and reduce the cost of housing and health care so that people are not struggling so desperately.
Proposition 112 requires that new oil and gas developments are at least 2500 feet away occupied structures like homes or businesses, water sources and areas designated as “vulnerable”. CCDC has no position on this proposal.
In closing, please remember to vote. Vote your ballot as soon as it comes so you do not forget. If you experience barriers call Disability Law Colorado. You can also call CCDC with questions or concerns. If you want to help do phone banking to get others to vote please reach out to Dawn Howard at email@example.com or 303-839-1775.
Below is our letter, please submit your own comments by MONDAY 10/15/18 at www.regulations.gov
October 12, 2018
Office of the General Counsel, Rules Docket Clerk
US Department of Housing & Urban Development
451 Seventh Street, SW Room 10276
Washington, DC 20410-0001
Submitted electronically via www.regulations.gov
RE: Docket No. FR-6123-A-01
To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing on behalf of the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition (CCDC) in response to the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: AFFH Streamlining and Enhancements, published in the Federal Register on August 16, 2018. CCDC is the largest statewide disability organization that is run by and for people with all types of disabilities (cross-disability). We recently did a listening tour across Colorado. We had eleven events and all but two were outside of the Denver metro area. In every community housing emerged as the number one problem for people with disabilities. While affordability is a problem for everyone in Colorado, people with disabilities deal with discrimination, safety, and habitability concerns as well. Too often people with disabilities are terrified to report discrimination or unsafe conditions due to fear of retaliation. ANY weakening of existing standards can be devastating to people with disabilities. If anything, requirements for affirmatively furthering fair housing should be strengthened and enforcement should be enhanced. More than 50% of those considered “chronically homeless” in Denver have disabilities (both physical and psychiatric) according to rent point in time studies.
CCDC strongly supports HUD’s 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) regulation and we urge HUD not to revoke or rewrite it. Rather, HUD should immediately resume implementation of the 2015 rule and dedicate the necessary department resources for effective implementation and enforcement of the rule. With AFFH compliance, we expect significant positive impacts on the communities we serve, and nearby communities whose interests intersect with ours. Failure to enforce AFFH causes our most vulnerable members of the community to suffer in unsafe conditions and often leads to homelessness. We find that as people become homeless, they are not able to escape and it soon becomes chronic. American’s disabled deserve better than this. Many of those suffering from housing discrimination are veterans that have served our country. Our advocacy coordinator, who is a disabled veteran, reports that veterans who require reasonable accommodations often face housing discrimination. This discrimination can increase the symptoms of their disabilities. Those that serve our country and acquired a disability as a result of their service deserve a housing agency that will enforce regulations created to assure fair treatment.
Historically, and despite the fair housing requirements of the 1968 Fair Housing Act, we have seen little improvement in the patterns of residential segregation and the resulting imbalances in community investment and inequities in access to jobs, education, transit and other life opportunities. We believe that the AFFH rule is the first significant step made toward real change and must be promptly reinstated for the following reasons:
The 2015 rule represents a wait—far too long—of 47 years for clarity on the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing provisions of the 1968 Fair Housing Act. The 2015 rule was the result of a massive use of federal resources, and at least 6 years of deliberation by HUD, along with significant input from a diverse array of stakeholders. Additionally, the rule was field tested in 74 jurisdictions. The initiation of another rulemaking process would be a waste of HUD resources and the tax dollars of the American people. Rather than exhaust additional resources on rewriting the rule, HUD should use those resources to enforce the 2015 rule which was not sufficiently implemented by HUD.
Until the 2015 rule, jurisdictions around the nation operated at a status quo established in 1968 due to insufficient guidance and enforcement on the AFFH regulation. It often required legal actions by private citizens or organizations to compel jurisdictions to take meaningful steps to further fair housing. Understandably, it will therefore require some time for jurisdictions to adapt to new expectations. The 2015 rule was an investment in our nation’s commitment to Civil Rights, and like any big investment, the highest costs are upfront. HUD cannot retreat from the steps it took to address segregation, discrimination, and disinvestment. American veterans and those with disabilities deserve better from our government.
In response to the 8 questions put forth by HUD in its ANPR, below are a few of the many reasons the 2015 rule should be reinstated:
Public Participation – The 2015 rule requires a level of community engagement that jurisdictions previously were not required to and did not employ. The new AFFH rule requires jurisdictions to design their public participation process to include people of all demographics and socioeconomic backgrounds, with a focus on those most impacted by segregation and inequitable community investment. This type of public participation is emblematic of the most basic principles of democracy and demonstrates a commitment to the values of democracy.
Data Collection – The 2015 rule ensures that community development decisions are rooted in an honest assessment of patterns of segregation, housing needs, and access to place-based opportunities. The HUD provided data offers a minimum standard of data collection that, when combined with local data and local input, allows for the sound development of measureable goals and benchmarks to move the needle on critical issues. Decisions should be made using data, not rumors or blogs.
Goals & Metrics—The 2015 rule requires jurisdictions to define explicit goals and metrics to measure progress toward the goals developed. This is a foundational requirement of meaningful community planning and governance. Goals should be set, and progress should be measured on an annual basis. This greatly enhances the ability of HUD and community stakeholders to hold local jurisdictions accountable to timely goal implementation. We measure what matters and AFFH must matter if we truly value all Americans.
Accountability – The 2015 rule creates requirements for HUD to review, approve of, and monitor Assessments of Fair Housing. This creates a strong incentive for jurisdictions to comply because the receipt of HUD funding is clearly tied to compliance with fair housing laws. These enhanced accountability measures will incentivize jurisdictions to comply with, and allow HUD to enforce, a 50-year-old federal legal requirement enacted into law by a democratically elected body of Congress.
For all of the reasons listed herein, and because our communities have long suffered unjust and immutable segregation and the resulting inequities in life outcomes, CCDC urges HUD to take immediate action to fully reinstate the 2015 rule and uphold its commitment to Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing.
Julie Reiskin, Executive Director