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Month: April 2020

Past Events: Video Recordings, Links & Resources 

Jump directly to the following recordings:

Lawsuit Adds Pressure on RTD to Drop Union Station Rule Changes

Denver artist Raverro Stinnett was at Union Station after attending a LoDo art opening, waiting for a train home early on the morning of April 20, 2018, when he was confronted by four security officers who threatened him and challenged him to a fight. Two of the guards, employed by contractor Allied Universal Security Services, led him to a bathroom and brutally assaulted him while another kept watch; all three later pleaded guilty to criminal charges. Stinnett was left with permanent brain injuries that, according to a lawsuit filed last week, “have completely upended his life.”

Continue to Westword Article

SWEEP of 300 PEOPLE WITH NO HOUSING TO STAY AT HOME Your Action Needed!!!

Your Help Is Needed!

The City is planning a sweep of all the encampments from 20th to 23rd, from Welton to Curtis – there are about 300 people without housing living at these encampments. We are in a State of Emergency with a deadly pandemic spreading across our nation… And THIS is how our Mayor treats people living on our streets who can’t afford his mile-high rent.

The Mayor’s Office LIED: On March 24th the Mayor’s office replied to an email stating it was “correct” that the city “would not be displacing people or their property” during this state of emergency. We are still in a state of emergency with a pandemic spreading across our City. The Mayor’s office lied straight out. How are people on the streets supposed to trust our government when they are lied to like this?

You Can’t “Stay at Home” when Your Tent is Being Swept: The sweep is scheduled for April 30th. The stay-at-home order has just been extended to May 8th. How are people living in tents at these encampments supposed to “stay at home” when the closest thing they have to a home, their tent, is being evicted from public space with nowhere to go?

CDC guidance says Sweeps should NOT take place UNLESS INDIVIDUAL HOUSING is AVAILABLE for all at the encampment: The CDC guidance clearly states the following,

“Unless individual housing units are available, do not clear encampments during community spread of COVID-19. Clearing encampments can cause people to disperse throughout the community and break connections with service providers. This increases the potential for infectious disease spread.” https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/homeless-shelters/unsheltered-homelessness.html

Where are the 300 housing units for residents of these encampments???

As of yesterday, there were 95 tents in the area planned to be swept. There are between 1 and 5 people staying in each tent, meaning there are about 300 people living outside in this area. In order to follow CDC guidance, stay-at-home orders, and care about human beings, individual housing (i.e. vacant apartments or hotel rooms) must be provided to every person in these encampments before they can be swept. Either housing needs to be given for all 300 people or the sweep needs to be called off.

Action Items

► Sample letters for both the Mayor and the City Council are on our website. Use this link.

Sample letters for the ACTION: SWEEP of 300 PEOPLE WITH NO HOUSING TO STAY AT HOME

Sample Letter for Governor Polis

Dear Governor Polis,

We have an emergency situation in Denver. People experiencing homelessness are camped near downtown Denver in part because they feel it is safer than living in a shelter with hundreds of others. For months, Mayor Hancock has refused to provide them with bathrooms or hand-washing facilities. This week, Denver Homeless Out Loud and Mutual Aid Denver came up with funding and placed four portable toilets and hand-washing stations near these encampments. On Wednesday, April 22nd, 2020, this same area was posted for a sizeable multi-block Sweep to take place on Thursday, April 30th, 2020. The Sweep could affect as many as 300 people.

The CDC guidance clearly states the following, “Unless individual housing units are available, do not clear encampments during community spread of COVID-19. Clearing encampments can cause people to disperse throughout the community and break connections with service providers. This action increases the potential for infectious disease spread.” (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/homeless-shelters/unsheltered-homelessness.html )  The planned Sweep directly violates CDC guidance to cities, and it will separate these neighbors from the toilets and hand-washing stations, which provide a minimum amount of safety for them.

We have heard nothing about the City providing an apartment or hotel/motel room to each of the people affected by the Sweep. According to CDC guidance, providing rooms must be done for our neighbors living on our streets so they, too, can shelter at home. Please use your influence or emergency regulatory authority to prevent this Sweep and any others in Denver or across the State until the pandemic is over unless individual housing – hotel/motel/apartments – is provided to the people surviving on the street before the Sweep. You must issue an Executive Order from the Governor’s Office prohibiting Sweeps until this pandemic is declared over.

Thank you for acting to stop the imminent Sweep in Denver and those of other homeless encampments across Colorado.

You may contact Terese Howard, DHOL, at (415) 517-5603 or terese.act@gmail.com.


Sample Letter for the City Council

Dear Council Members,
The City is planning a sweep of all the encampments from 20th to 23rd, from Welton to Curtis, where approximately 300 people without housing live. On March 24th, the Mayor’s office replied to an email stating it was “correct that the city would not be displacing people or their property during this State of emergency.” We are still in a state of emergency with a pandemic spreading across our City. It appears the Mayor’s office lied straight out.

When the government lies like this, how are people on the streets supposed to trust their leaders?

The scheduled Sweep is for April 30th. The stay-at-home order has just been extended to May 8th. How are people living in tents at these encampments supposed to “stay at home” when the closest thing they have to a home, their tent, is being evicted from public space with nowhere to go?

The CDC guidance clearly states the following, ‘Unless individual housing units are available, do not clear encampments during community spread of COVID-19. Clearing encampments can cause people to disperse throughout the community and break connections with service providers. This increases the potential for infectious disease Spread.” (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/homeless-Shelters/unsheltered-homelessness.html)

So our question is this: Where are the individual housing units available for the 300 people living at these encampments?

As of yesterday, the Sweep area has 95 tents with between 1 and 5 people staying in each tent. This means there are about 300 people currently living in this area. To follow CDC guidance, stay-at-home orders, and care about human beings, we must provide private housing (i.e., vacant apartments or hotel rooms) to every person in these encampments. Either find housing accommodations for all 300 people or call off the Sweep.

To make housing available for those in the affected area, we need to get on the ball right away. We must identify the units, ensure the appropriateness of each person’s particular needs, and help transport their property to their new house.

In case you did not see our recent quick survey of 64 people who are homeless, found that 87% would choose a hotel room as a first option. Tent camping was the second-best option, and shelter was last. Residents of these encampments want housing!

Please help us ensure no Sweep occurs unless and until appropriate individual housing is available for all 300 people at these encampments. Contact the Mayor’s office and ask where the 300 housing units are for these residents.

Inform the Mayor’s office you do not support a Sweep of these residents unless the can offer real housing for all. If there are not 300 housing units ready for folks to move in, the Mayor must call off the Sweep immediately.

 

Sincerely,

Stimulus Payment Information and Links

English/Español

Reminder for SSA, VA, SSI and RRB Benefit Recipients with Dependents

This deadline has passed. If you didn’t file for your dependant children, the stimulus amount of $500 will be available after you file your 2020 taxes.

From IRS.gov: “The IRS has already scheduled payments to taxpayers based on Social Security retirement, disability (SSDI),  or survivor benefits, Railroad Retirement benefits. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Veterans Affairs (C&P) benefit payments will be scheduled shortly for payment in mid-May. However, the window has closed to use this tool for these recipients who have a child and don’t normally file a tax return. These recipients who do not receive a payment that includes up to $500 for any qualifying children can file a tax return next year to determine their payment based on 2020 and claim any additional amount they weren’t paid this year.”


We have also received multiple questions about dependant children over the age of 17 and parents claimed as dependents on their adult child’s taxes.

If you have questions about your stimulus payment, check one of these pages for information:

IRS Sites

For Veterans:

News Articles

URGENT UPDATE FOR BENEFIT RECIPIENTS WITH DEPENDENT CHILDREN

We were just informed there is a deadline of tomorrow (Wednesday) at 10 am MST for anyone on specific benefit programs AND who also have dependent children. 

Social Security recipients have until noon on Wednesday to file taxes or fill out this non-filer form: Non-Filers: Enter Payment Information. This unexpected deadline is a huge burden on parents with disabilities who are on SSDI and other Social Security recipients, including survivor beneficiaries such as windows and widowers with young children and retirement beneficiaries such as grandparents raising adopted children under the age of 17. The IRS Press Release explains another deadline is coming shortly for parents who receive SSI or VA benefits. 

If the following statements are true, you MUST file before 10 am Mountain time tomorrow.
  • I did not file a tax return in 2019 or 2018.
  • I have dependent children.
  • I receive benefits from one or more of the following: Social Security retirement, survivor or disability benefits (SSDI), Railroad Retirement benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Veterans Affairs beneficiaries
If all these statements are true, go to the Non-Filers: Enter Payment Information and follow the steps to complete the requirements to receive your stimulus payments. 
If you need assistance, Click on the help document below to walk you through the process. Remember, the deadline is tomorrow morning (4/22) at 10 am so please, complete this today.

Non-filers step by step instructions

CALL TO ACTION: We Need 12% FMAP (Federal Medicaid Assistance Payment) Increase

Urgent Action Needed from You!

From Julie Reiskin, Executive Director

Background:

  • The FMAP formula is designed so that the Fed pays a lesser portion of Medicaid costs in states with higher per capita income relative to the national average.  Colorado until recently was a wealthier state.
  • FMAP rates have a statutory minimum of 50% and a maximum of 83%. For FY2019, regular FMAP rates range nationally from 50% – 76.39%, with Colorado at 50% and states like MS, WV, AL, KY, and NM at greater than 70%,
  • That means for every dollar of expense, the State of Colorado and the Fed each chip in 50 cents, despite how the Coronavirus pandemic is impacting our economy right now.  Colorado has tourism as a big part of our economy.
  • At the same time, Medicaid membership increases as our economy takes a downturn, creating even more expense for the State.

Federal Response:

  • The Federal Stimulus package did include a 6.2% increase in FMAP for all states.
  • Colorado and most other states asked for and received needed flexibility from the federal government to help us cope with the effects of the pandemic. THIS JUST ALLOWS US TO DO THE ACTIVITIES BELOW BUT DOES NOT GIVE US RESOURCES TO ACTUALLY DO THESE THINGS:  Some of our requests include:
    • Not kicking people off of Medicaid during the crisis
    • Relaxing prior authorization requirements so people do not risk not getting essential services
    • Increased funds for supports like cleaning and sanitizing in nursing facilities, dialysis centers, etc.
    • Paying retainer payments to programs that are essential for our most vulnerable but that cannot operate during the crisis like adult day care programs
    • Allowing paid time off for some direct care workers so they do not come work with vulnerable people when ill.

Problem:

For Colorado to actually implement the most critical areas of flexibility requested, meet the needs of the Medicaid providers that include rural hospitals, personal care workers, people that provide direct support to those with cognitive disabilities, and other essential needs the FMAP needs to be at least 12%.   Therefore, we need our federally elected officials to actively fight for an increased FMAP in the next stimulus package currently in the work.  It must be at least 12%.  At the very least we need money that goes to the states to help with Medicaid costs.

This is NOT a partisan issue.  Medicaid Helps ALL of Colorado.   This could be a life and death issue for elderly and disabled Coloradans but will also affect many others including everyone who has either lost their job or has reduced hours.

WHAT TO DO NOW:

Everyone should contact BOTH Senators and the Representative for YOUR area.  You should say that you want the package to include 12% FMAP or any other way to get money to state governments and why you care about Medicaid.  Include that you are a voter, and know and speak to many other voters!!    Share this request with others.

Colorado U.S. Senators

  1. https://www.bennet.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact
  2. https://www.gardner.senate.gov/contact-cory/email-cory

Colorado U. S. Representatives

  1. CD 1 Diana DeGette https://degette.house.gov/contact  Denver
  2. CD 2 Joe Neguse https://neguse.house.gov/contact  Boulder to Ft. Collins and Eastern Mountains
  3. CD 3 Scott Tipton https://tipton.house.gov/contact Entire Western Slope and Pueblo
  4. CD 4 Ken Buck https://buck.house.gov/contact Northern Colorado including Greeley
  5. CD 5 Doug Lamborn https://lamborn.house.gov/contact Colorado Springs to Salida
  6. CD 6  Jason Crow https://crow.house.gov/contact Aurora to Centennial
  7. CD 7 Ed Perlmutter https://perlmutter.house.gov/forms/writeyourrep/  Most of Jefferson & Adams

Please get at least 5 other people to write –and ask them to do the same!

A map showing the congressional districts of Colorado.CD 1 Diana DeGette:  Denver  CD 2 Joe Neguse: Boulder to Ft. Collins and Eastern Mountains CD 3 Scott Tipton: Entire Western Slope and Pueblo CD 4 Ken Buck: Northern Colorado including Greeley CD 5 Doug Lamborn: Colorado Springs to Salida CD 6  Jason Crow: Aurora to Centennial CD 7 Ed Perlmutter: Most of Jefferson & Adams
Colorado Congressional Districts, 113th Congress

Southern Colorado Providers Say Coronavirus Impact Additive For Vulnerable Populations

CCDC In the News!

CCDC’s own Kristen Castor was interviewed as part of the following news report. Follow the link to read the entire article. Kristen’s section is below

Southern Colorado Providers Say Coronavirus Impact Additive For Vulnerable Populations

Kristen Castor
Non-attorney advocate with the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition, based in Pueblo

Image of members of the CCDC 2019 State Meeting.
Kristen Castor (second from right) works as a non-attorney advocate with the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition.
Kristen Castor (second from right) works as a non-attorney advocate with the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition.
CREDIT COLORADO CROSS-DISABILITY COALITION

On Her Work With The Organization
My primary responsibility is to represent people who are appealing Medicaid denials at the administrative law judge level with the state. And then I do a lot of miscellaneous organizing things. Right now there’s a lot, because we’re trying to get our own membership informed about the virus, the precautions they can take and the benefits that they have.

Interestingly enough, most of the people with disabilities that we serve live below the poverty level. So, anything that deals with poverty often crosses over with what we need to look at for our population.

On Supports And Challenges Due To COVID-19
I’ve been so worried about people being stuck in their homes and not able to get food. That just terrifies me. I think people with severe disabilities or possibly very elderly people are at high risk of that happening. And so far, the city [of Pueblo] has just responded by creating more networks and trying to help that particular population.

[We’ve been discussing] the fear that if you need medical help outside of your disability, that you will be triaged, and basically murdered. That’s the fear we live with that constantly. And the reason is because all of us, if we have a severe disability and lived with it for a number of years, all of us have been told to our faces by various people that we should not be alive. I’ve been told that.

We’ve been fighting for the right to live in the community for the last 40 years. So every time we go around with a threat like this, we’re thinking, ‘Oh my god, I fought all my life to stay independent, and now I might lose it with a pen stroke.’ And people with disabilities, we’re just that–we’re people. It doesn’t mean we can’t contribute.

5 reasons you may not have gotten your stimulus money yet (Article from CNN)

Published on CNN.com

Washington (CNN)About 80 million people were sent their stimulus payments this week — but if you weren’t one of them, it doesn’t mean you won’t get the money.

You’re one of roughly 60 million people still waiting. About 90% of Americans are eligible for the payments, which phase-out for high-income earners, according to an estimate from the Tax Policy Center.

The Internal Revenue Service started by sending money to the people it could reach the fastest. This was anyone who had direct deposit information already on file with the agency because they were due a refund on either their 2018 or 2019 federal tax returns.

Others, like Social Security and Supplemental Security Income recipients, should receive the payments automatically soon, the IRS said this week.

Then, the agency will begin sending paper checks — with President Donald Trump’s signature — to those who haven’t authorized a direct deposit in the past two years. On Wednesday, IRS officials said those checks should start going out next week, according to a Democratic congressional aide. But the agency can only process roughly 5 million checks a week, so it could take months before all of them are sent out.

Here are five reasons why you might not have received your money yet:

1. You didn’t get a federal tax refund in 2018 or 2019

Even if you filed your 2018 or 2019 taxes electronically, that doesn’t mean the IRS can direct-deposit the money into your bank account. You must have also received a refund in those years via direct deposit to get the money delivered automatically.

The IRS is not using bank account information it may have used to withdraw from your account if you owed money.

2. Your refund went to an old bank account

If you didn’t receive a refund in 2019, or haven’t filed yet, the IRS will use the bank account information used to send a refund for the 2018 tax year.

Some people told CNN that the money was sent to an account they have since closed and that the bank transferred the money back to the IRS. In that case, the payment will likely come later by a check in the mail.

A new IRS online tool, called Get My Payment, allows you to input new bank account information — but it’s only helpful if the agency doesn’t already have an account on file from a 2018 or 2019 tax return and hasn’t yet processed your stimulus payment.

Filing a 2019 return now, if you haven’t already done so, is the only way to update direct deposit information that the IRS has on file from a 2018 return. Tax Day was moved from the traditional April 15 to July 15 this year to give filers more time.

3. Your refund went to a temporary account set up by a tax preparer

You may not even realize it, but sometimes tax preparers set up a temporary account and that’s where your tax refund is deposited first. They take out their fees and then transfer the remaining money into your bank account or a debit card. Sometimes this is in the form of an advanced loan.

It may take longer for you to receive your stimulus money if that’s the case. When stimulus payments were sent out in 2008, this glitch affected about 20 million people. But they eventually received the money by a paper check.

Some people who used popular tax preparers like TurboTax and H&R Block and received a refund on a debit card told CNN that the IRS tool could not confirm the status of their payment when they checked this week.

H&R Block said on its website that it is still waiting for answers from the IRS, but that some people who have used its Emerald debit card will see their stimulus money transferred there.

TurboTax said the IRS has the appropriate banking information for all of its filers and that any of its customers who are eligible for a stimulus payment and had their refund transferred to a debit card will receive their payment without delays or fees.

4. You filed a paper return in 2019

Most people file electronically, but some still send in paper returns.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the IRS has many employees working remotely and has stopped processing paper returns until its centers are able to reopen.

If you didn’t get a refund directly deposited in 2018 and filed a paper return for 2019, you may be waiting for a paper check with your stimulus money.

5. You aren’t normally required to file a tax return

There are millions of low-income people who are not normally required to file tax returns that will have to take some action before receiving their stimulus money.

Generally, these are individuals who did not earn more than $12,200 last year or married couples who did not earn more than $24,400.

But they won’t have to file a whole new form, as earlier guidance from the IRS suggested. Instead, it created an online tool for non-filers that asks for basic information including names, date of births, and Social Security numbers for the person filing and his or her dependents. They won’t have to provide any income information.

The tool allows you to input bank account information for a direct deposit, or an address to receive a paper check.

How to check your status with the IRS:

On Wednesday, the IRS launched an online tool allowing people to check the status of their payment. While many people were pleased to see the money had been transferred to their bank account, others told CNN that they were frustrated to learn their payment status was not available.

Their statuses may be updated overnight, as the tool is updated daily. But otherwise, those people are left without any options but to keep checking. On its website, the IRS explicitly says not to call about the payments.

The agency is moving much more quickly than it did the last time it delivered stimulus payments in 2008. The coronavirus money was authorized by the $2.2 trillion congressional stimulus package that was signed into law three weeks ago.

The IRS tool may indicate that a person is eligible for the payment, but that it does not have direct deposit information on file. In that case, one can input their bank account information to receive the money more quickly, rather than waiting for a check in the mail.

CNN’s Lauren Fox contributed to this story.

In The Face Of Ethical Aberrations In Several States Colorado Stands Strong Against Discrimination In COVID-19 Care

DENVERApril 9, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — The Governor’s Expert Emergency Epidemic Response Committee developed Crisis Standards of Care (CSC) after collaboration with experts and communities. Governor Polis has authorized the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to enact the standards when or if necessary.  

The Colorado Cross Disability Coalition (CCDC), The Arc of Colorado, and over 140 organizations thank Gov. Jared Polis for ensuring that people with disabilities and other vulnerable populations receive equitable care under the CSC during the COVID-19 epidemic and other crisis situations.

Read the original article here.


Important Notice
CCDC’s employees and/or volunteers are NOT acting as your attorney. Responses you receive via electronic mail, phone, or in any other manner DO NOT create or constitute an attorney-client relationship between you and the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition (CCDC), or any employee of, or other person associated with, CCDC. The only way an attorney-client relationship is established is if you have a signed retainer agreement with one of the CCDC Legal Program attorneys.

Information received from CCDC’s employees or volunteers, or from this site, should NOT be considered a substitute for the advice of a lawyer. www.ccdconline.org DOES NOT provide any legal advice, and you should consult with your own lawyer for legal advice. This website is a general service that provides information over the internet. The information contained on this site is general information and should not be construed as legal advice to be applied to any specific factual situation.

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