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Category: Uncategorized

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

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.

COVID-19 Purchasing Scams 

The Fraud Corner (4/9/2020) 

Office of Inspector General Legal Services Corporation

As part of its Fraud Corner Series, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) is providing Legal Services Corporation (LSC) grantees with the following information and resources relating to Coronavirus/COVID-19 frauds and scams. 

A March 24, 2020, OIG Fraud Corner article discussed fraud schemes relating to COVID- 19 and encouraged grantees to share that information with their clients. This article deals with potential price gouging, price-fixing, and bid-rigging scams that can adversely affect LSC grantees and their clients as they make critical purchases during the COVID-19 crisis. As the United States Deputy Attorney General has stated, “capitalizing on this crisis to reap illicit profits or otherwise preying on Americans is reprehensible and will not be tolerated.” 

Price gouging is the charging of exorbitant prices for essential items in times of unusually high demand. A majority of states prohibit price gouging during declared emergencies; state laws differ as to what items and what price increases are covered (and are evolving as the crisis unfolds). To protect their (and their clients’) resources, the OIG encourages grantees to familiarize themselves with the price gouging laws applicable in their respective jurisdictions. 

In a March 31, 2020, memorandum LSC president Ronald Flagg informed LSC grantee executive directors of LSC’s plan to distribute $50 million in emergency funds included in the recent COVID-19 stimulus package. The memorandum also addressed the possibility that LSC may request an additional $50 million in an anticipated Phase 4 coronavirus package. 

This supplemental funding will provide LSC grantees much needed support in dealing with the effects of COVID-19 including equipment, services, and related expenses to improve and expand telework and remote access capabilities, helping LSC’s 132 grantees to rapidly and safely assist low-income clients facing job losses, evictions, and other problems stemming from the pandemic. 

Under the COVID-19 emergency declaration, LSC is encouraged to use emergency procurement authorities to reduce administrative friction for grantees and contractors, enabling a rapid response to the many pressing demands grantees face. Given these unusual circumstances, LSC grantees should beware of vendors taking advantage of the health crisis to reap illicit profits. As LSC has noted, “legal services providers will face financial pressure in obtaining the necessary equipment and technology to allow staff to work remotely and connect with clients.” Even while acting expeditiously as the current circumstances require, the LSC OIG encourages LSC grantees to practice sound procurement practices to avoid being victimized by price-gouging scams during the pandemic. 

LSC Program Letter 16-3, “Procurement Policy Drafting Guidance for LSC Recipients,” discusses the importance of LSC grantees developing effective procurement practices. It includes an attachment entitled “Procurement Policy Drafting 101, Guidelines for LSC Grantees,” which addresses the basic elements of an effective procurement policy: 

1) ensuring competition between vendors; 2) effectively negotiating contract terms; 3) documenting purchasing decisions; and, 4) ensuring internal controls are in place to reduce abusive practices by vendors. 

As noted in the Guidelines, “the purpose of a procurement policy is to ensure that best value – the most advantageous balance of price, quality, and performance – is obtained when purchasing business-related products and services, and to minimize fraud, waste, and abuse in purchasing.” To best avoid procurement scams, the OIG encourages LSC grantees to continue following the guidance laid out in LSC Program Letter 16-03 and maintain sufficient documentation to support all purchasing decisions. 

The OIG realizes that the COVID-19 crisis is placing substantial additional pressure on grantees and stands ready to assist you with any questions or concerns that arise in connection with these and other matters. If you suspect a vendor or contractor is defrauding you during this COVID-19 health crisis, contact the COVID-19 National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at (866) 720-5721; your State Attorney General’s office; and the LSC OIG Hotline at (800) 678-8868. 

If you have any questions or would like additional information about this or any other Fraud Corner article, please contact Daniel O’Rourke, Assistant Inspector General for Investigations, LSC OIG, at (202) 295-1651, or by email at dorourke@oig.lsc.gov

Q & A from the HCPF and the Disability Community Webinar Series

The questions below are taken from the webinar series and have been answered by experts in the field. If you find an error or discrepancy, please email covid@ccdconline.org.

Listed by Subject

  1. Administrative
  2. Eligibility
  3. LTSS (Long-term Services and Supports)
  4. Multiple Topics
  5. Non-HCPF questions
  6. State Plan

Administrative Questions

  1. What is HCPF doing about Fair Hearings?
    • Fair hearings are being done by telephone. If absolutely necessary, hearings can be done in person.
  2. Can we suspend timelines for hearings for people getting continued benefits?
  3. Can we still get expedited hearings?
    • Yes.
  4. Will in-person hearings be delayed?
    • Yes.
  5. Will appeal deadlines be relaxed?
    • Not at this time, but no clients can currently be removed from Medicaid until further notice.
  6. OAC is making us make motions for each case to attend the hearing by phone. Can HCPF create a policy stating all hearings are now done by phone?
    • OAC is moving all hearings to a telephone hearing. If a case is scheduled in-person, let OAC know.
  7. How do we help clients that do not have a fax or scanner get releases done when advocacy staff is also working from home?
    • If a client cannot get a release done, they should call OAC or send an email stating who they want to represent them. Clients can also be guided on how to use their phone as a scanner and can take pictures of their signature and ID. They can fill out what they can on the new fillable forms then email that plus their signature and ID to the advocate and OAC so that it is clear that the client intends for the advocate to represent them. (email to oac-gs@state.co.us)

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Eligibility

  1. If people on Medicaid Buy-in are laid off, will the 30-day requirement for finding a new job still be in effect?
  2. How is my recertification going to happen while we are under the Stay-at-home order?
    • Recertification will be done telephonically, and no terminations can happen during the emergency. (Operational Memo)
  3. Is flexibility regarding a redetermination, eligibility, etc., requested for the HCBS waiver only or all?
    • Everyone will be given flexibility in redetermination, eligibility, retaining benefits, etc., and not just those on a waiver.
  4. I am worried about the $2000 asset limit for Medicaid – mostly because I am spending less money since I can’t go anywhere? Is this going to kick me off?
    • The strict asset limit will not come under scrutiny during the state of emergency, and no one will be terminated during this time.
  5. Who do we call if someone is kicked off Medicaid after March 18?
    • HCPF’s answer was to first speak with the county. We can try to help if you email HCPF_HCBS_Questions@state.co.us the information with an encrypted email. CCDC would suggest an immediate appeal if this cannot be solved in one business day with the county. Clients can email our eligibility and appeals coordinator at dsablan@ccdconline.org .
  6. Does the rule about keeping people on Medicaid apply nationwide?
    • No, only for states that take Medicaid program’s federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP).
  7. If we get a shelter in place order, how do I go take care of my son? Do I need some kind of documentation to prove I am his home health provider?
    • You will be allowed to do home care/personal care/CDASS visits. No letter will be required but letters were sent out to CDASS clients by the FMS agencies.

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LTSS (Long-term Services and Supports)

  1. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) released a ban on all “non-essential personal care” services which included massage parlors. I have a massage therapist that under HCBS is considered an essential service. How can she be certain she is not breaking the ban?
    • In-home services are allowed based on the guidance of the provider. Many might choose not to continue services such as massage.
  2. Does HCPF expect surge in CDASS enrollment??
    • Unsure at this time.
  3. My CDASS aides and I are out of the personal protective equipment. How do we get more?
  4. Is there”extra” money available to IHSS parent caregivers for children already on Children’s Home and Community-Based Services Waiver (CHCBS)CHCBS waiver?
    • Not at this time.
  5. “I lost my job and I am filing for unemployment. I am also the Family Caregiver for my son’s residential services. I know that they are tax-exempt, but how do I report this on the unemployment application?”
    • Your PASA should be able to help you with this. If you are a CDASS employee, Consumer Direct should be able to help.


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Multiple Topics

  1. Some host home providers are not allowing people to work. Can HCPF tell them people have a right to work?
    • All non-essential workers are furloughed now. Host home pay is for 24/7 care. They must provide safe structure while sheltering in place.
  2. With Medicaid transportation “canceled” can family members get mileage to take people to medical appointments?

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Non-HCPF questions

  1. Gov. Polis has announced that people can offer assistance and donations through helpcoloradonow.org. However, there is no link for “I need help.” Most of us are down one or all of our home aides due to their potential exposure to COVID-19.
  2. Is there a community site (like Craigs List) where some can volunteer and others can ask for help from volunteers?
    • This is happening on NextDoor apps around the community.
  3. What can be done to help people of high risk avoid having to go out to the grocery stores, pharmacies, and other public spaces without having to pay delivery fees and additional costs?
    • HCPF is allowing NMT to be used for errands. IN the metro area Access-A-Ride is also being used to pick up groceries at specific stores. This is a free service from Access A Ride. (RTD Access-A-Ride)

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State Plan

  1. My daughter is not getting speech therapy because her small provider doesn’t know how to bill Medicaid for telehealth. Where can they go to get information and restore this benefit?
  2. Can we get more than a 1-month fill on my medication?
  3. What is the best way to access telemedicine for my medical care?
    • The DPHE has a good site explaining how to get the most out of telemedicine. Follow the link provided. (Telehealth and Nurselines)
  4. Can I use telemedicine for Non-Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC)?
  5. What do I do if I cannot see my primary care provider?
  6. How do I know if a procedure is elective or not?
  7. What if I can’t reach my primary care physician to get refills of my medicine?

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Guide for Hospitals on Best Practices for Communication with Individuals with Disabilities

Note: This guide is not legal advice but is a best practice document 
put together by several Colorado-based disability rights organizations. (April 9, 2020)

This document contains the following sections:

Communication Best Practices

Reasonable modification of policy

Best Practices for Specific Disabilities

QUESTIONS?

COMMUNICATION BEST PRACTICES

To communicate with people who have different levels of ability and may be considered as having a disability

These are some quick tips for first responders and hospitals during an emergency.  In normal situations, the obligations are much more expansive. Training on and clear policies that are regularly updated is expected.  The Americans with Disabilities Act obligations are in place even during emergencies. Some practices may need to be altered during the emergency, but effective communication must be provided.

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What is effective communication?

Communication that is as effective for persons with disabilities as it is for persons without disabilities.  Many people with disabilities may need reasonable accommodations to support alternative methods of communicating.  Ask if the person uses a communication device or needs accommodations.

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What is the obligation of a hospital or other provider?

To provide auxiliary aids and services as needed to ensure effective communication, and to modify policies, practices, and procedures as needed unless the modification fundamentally alters the program, service or benefits.
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Who determines the appropriate auxiliary aids or services?

The primary consideration should be given to the individual with a disability’s desired aid or service.  The entity can offer alternatives or make final decisions only if the communication is equally effective.  BEST PRACTICE IS TO ALWAYS MAKE THIS A COLLABORATIVE PROCESS.  Always ask the person, “What can I do to help with communication?”
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Reasonable modification of policy:

If someone needs another person they know in order to communicate, the hospital must modify policies as long as the modification does not create a fundamental alteration to their service.  Allowing a family member or interpreter, who is capable of acknowledging the risk, to be in the room to assist with essential communication is likely a reasonable modification of the policy that generally prohibits visitors.  This is particularly true if the individual is unable to use a device (iPad, Smartphone, etc.) to communicate. While policy modifications may be needed, it is necessary to always assume the person with disability is the final decision-maker regarding treatment, unless otherwise proven to be different with provided documentation such as Medical POA, POA, or guardianship.

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The following assumptions are acceptable:

  • That people know their communication needs and if they are able to express those needs will tell you.  (Sometimes severe anxiety might get in the way of this but usually people are happy to help someone that is trying to help them).
  • That people with all types of disabilities will have the same gamut of reactions to news that they or a loved one have COVID-19.That people with all types of disabilities have the same level of preparation (or lack thereof) with regard to advance directives as the rest of the population.

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 The following assumptions should not be made:

  • That people with severe disabilities have guardians.  This includes those who clearly lack capacity.
  • That people with significant speech or communication impairments all have an intellectual disability.
  • That people with intellectual disabilities cannot make decisions about their lives.
  • That someone that may require support with decision-making should have a guardian.
  • That people with very significant disabilities would reject lifesaving measures or have a poor quality of life or would see life on a ventilator as a tragedy.
  • That because you believe you understand the communication you are receiving, the other person is fully able to understand and participate in the communication. Communication must be both expressive and receptive to be effective.
  • For someone using ASL or sign, do not assume they can or can’t hear you or their ability with sign language is flawless. Confirm understanding by asking clarifying questions. Especially with an interpreter. They too can make mistakes.

Blue line with three diamond shapes in the middle
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Best Practices for Specific Disabilities

The following sections are organized by the description of the person needing communication support.

Top⇑

A person who is Deaf

  • Is there a sign language interpreter or agency/company you can have on contract to use via Video Remote Interpreting (“VRI”)?  Set up contracts and protocols, provide training and make sure there is an available phone or tablet. This should be an RID certified interpreter (Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf). Depending on the complexity of the communication, a medically certified interpreter might be necessary.
  • Make sure that all staff have been trained and know how to use VRI, and that equipment is somewhere they can find it quickly.  Please note that VRI might be routed out of state and you might not get a certified interpreter that is required in Colorado unless you ask for this.
  • Note-writing is OK for people who request it or have become deaf later in life, many people born Deaf are limited in English so any note-writing done in emergency should be confirmed with an interpreter at the earliest possible moment.
  • Once an emergency has passed (e.g. patient admitted and somewhat stabilized) an in-person interpreter should be summoned, especially on the request of the patient(s) who is Deaf.   Rural hospitals call RISP.   Urban hospitals should have a contract.  For list of interpreters go here.
  • See guidance from the National Association for the Deaf

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A person who is Hard of Hearing

  • Lip reading will not work through masks. Get some masks with clear plastic windows and have it on site for such patients.
  • Move to a quiet room when possible.
  • Note writing.
  • Have some iPads to type on and sanitize between uses.  Notepads should also be made available as some older people with hearing loss do not use technology. All pens and supplies must be disinfected/wiped down between uses.

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A person who is Non-Verbal

People who are non-verbal do not all have the same challenges.  They may or may not understand what you are saying.

  • Do they have a device to help them?
    • An iPad, a communication board
  • Are they able to write questions and answers?

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A person with a Speech Impairment

  • If they are not with someone that can assist, ask them to repeat it.
  • Many people with speech impairments may spit (non-purposeful) some when they talk, so use a mask.
  • A face shield may be easier for them to use than a mask.
  • Ask yes no questions when possible; yes will be something going up (thumb, head, smile, etc.)
  • If you cannot understand a word, ask them to spell; if you cannot get letters, you start spelling.
  • Have a large letter board and let them point to letters, someone will have to hold it up. If they communicate this way, they might have it on them, unless they were taken into a hospital by ambulance.

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A person who is Blind:

  • NEVER take away mobility aides including white canes or guide dogs.
  • Have accessible documents (Word is preferable) you can email to someone so they can use a screen reader on their device
  • If you cannot use a Word document or the person does not have email, have someone available to read the document for the person.
  • Braille is going to be a challenge unless you have enough to give patients their own copy of the documents.  You cannot have one patient use it after another and it cannot be read with gloves.
  • This is important for advance directives.

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A person who has Low Vision

  • Large and very large print.  Any documents need to have copies in large and very large print (18 and 24 font).
  • Magnifiers that can be sanitized.

Top⇑

A person who has an Intellectual or Developmental Disability

  • Speak to the person appropriate to the chronological age, do not speak to the person as if he or she is a child (unless they actually are a child).
  • When a person can’t or does not respond to your requests or questions; it does not mean they are not being compliant. Sometimes they just can’t speak or need more time to process before responding.
  • Interactions with authority figures can often bring up traumatic experiences for people with I/DD.
    • If a person isn’t responsive, consider also that they may be in a state of panic or “fight or flight”
    • Give them time and understand that no one is at their best in a crisis situation.
  • Remember to use clear language, avoiding metaphors and idiomatic phrases.
    • Some people with I/DD may do better with very literal communication and when asking a question, endeavor to be specific.
    • Do not ask, “do you have a weapon?” ask, “Do you have a gun in your pocket right now?” or “Do you have a knife in your pocket right now?”
    • Use plain language rather than medical terms.
  • Do not speak directly to a caregiver about a person with I/DD
    • Ask the person with I/DD for permission to talk to their caregiver if you need clarification, etc.
  • Many people with disabilities live with aging caregivers who may also be vulnerable to COVID-19 at this time.
    • People with disabilities may be reticent to leave their family member.
    • Remember that many of these family units have been together, in a very intimate environment, for many decades.
    • When dealing with family members and people with disabilities, consider the increased level of fear that might come with separation.
  • People with I/DD experience the same range of emotions as anyone else.
    • When assisting a person with I/DD, think also about how your communication might need to overlap with communication tips for anxiety, agitation, etc.
    • Remember that about 80% of people with I/DD also have a co-occurring mental health diagnosis.

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A person who has a Mental Illness (depression, bipolar depression, schizophrenia, etc.)

  • Situations of extreme stress can increase symptoms of depression leading to individuals inability to see reality – they may view them as better or worse than the situation warrants.
  • Do not force choices on individuals in this mental state. They would be based on misinterpretation of facts.
  • Be cautious of phrases like “It’s not that bad”, or “You are overreacting.”  For the person in a heightened mental state it is that bad and they aren’t overreacting.

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A person who has Severe Anxiety

  • Realize that anxiety can manifest like hostility, unwillingness, or outright anger. People in the middle of a severe anxiety attack can act and appear very stubborn. This is often due to the overwhelming fear of what comes next.
  • Offer a quiet room when possible.
  • Ask them what usually helps them when they are anxious.
  • Do NOT tell them to calm down.
  • Explain what is happening now, next, and after that. Often knowing the steps help ease the fear of the unknown.
  • Realize that for many anxiety attacks are a chemical imbalance in the brain – similar to adrenaline – where something triggers a surge of chemicals that lead to panic. Often the only option is to ride out the wave until the balance of chemistry in the brain is restored
  • Ask if they have someone who they want to help them with communication and offer a phone if they do not have it.
  • When a person can’t or does not respond to your requests or questions; it does not mean they are not being compliant. Sometimes they just can’t speak or need more time to process before responding.
  • Don’t try to make them make long term plans because they are in survival mode and long-term planning might be out of their reach. (Unlikely this will happen, but long term might mean a few hours away for the person.)
  • Ask them if they need a break or time to gather their thoughts.

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A person who has Severe Agitation

  • Offer a quiet room when possible.
  • Do not threaten, ask what would help.
  • Do NOT tell them to calm down.
  • Speak to the person appropriate to the chronological age, do not speak to the person as if he or she is a child (unless they actually are a child).
  • When a person can’t or does not respond to your requests or questions; it does not mean they are not being compliant. Sometimes they just can’t speak or need more time to process before responding.
  • Don’t try to make them make long term plans because they are in survival mode and long-term planning might be out of their reach.
  • Ask them if they need a break or time to gather their thoughts.

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QUESTIONS?

CALL THE COLORADO CROSS-DISABILITY COALITION (303-839-1775) or email covid@ccdconline.org.

These organizations contributed and are trusted resources. Thank you for contributions.

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Update on City (In)Action Re Needs of the Unhoused in this COVID Crisis

From Denver Homeless Outloud – A Call for Action!

New images from the Men’s Shelter at the National Western Stockshow property:

Sleeping cots appear to be about 4 feet apart. - showing that there is slightly more space than the former men's shelters folks came from, but definitely not to the par of social distancing standards in this pandemic.
There is slightly more space than the former men’s shelters folks came from, but definitely not to the par of social distancing standards in this pandemic.
Sleeping cots appear to be about 4 feet apart.
Sleeping cots at the new men’s shelter appear to be about 4 feet apart.
Dining area in the new men's shelter with tables that are not spaced to allow the 6 foot distance required by social distancing.
Dining area in the new men’s shelter.

As you can see in these pictures, the new men’s shelter at the National Western does not provide the social distancing it was made out to provide. Sleeping coats appear to be about 4 feet apart. Buses coming to the shelter are packed tight with people. There is slightly more space than the former men’s shelters folks came from, but definitely not to the par of social distancing standards in this pandemic. 600 men in one room are still sharing the same air, surfaces, ect.

Artists rendering of an individual facing a brick wall with hotels drawn surrounding the person. The words sya This is a huma rights issue. Defend our community against covid-19. Hotels not hospital beds.
This is a human rights issue. Defend our community against COVID-19. Hotels, not hospital beds.

Over the past 4 plus weeks of the COVID emergency, we have been demanding action from the City and the State to protect all of us – including those of us without housing. Below is an update on what the City and State is and is not doing to date to meet these demands for basic protection.

End the Sweeps and Survival Ban Enforcement:

  • Sweeps – We did get the Mayor’s office to agree to “not displace people or their property from encampments during this state of emergency.” This has been largely followed…which makes life a lot safer and better for folks on the street right now. But it has not been followed all the time and they are pushing the “grey areas.” See detail on ways below…
  • Tents Down – Instead of telling people to move along in camping ban enforcement, police have been telling people to drop their tents in the day. How are people supposed to stay at home if their tent, the only thing they have as a home, is dropped down? Police should be directed to cease this harmful demand.
  • Public Property – Police have frequently threatened camps with move on orders that are on public property saying they were on private property. Police need to understand what is public property vs private. If they are enforcing move-on orders on private property it should be under the initiative of the private property owner, not the police.
  • Park Property – While park property does have curfews, many cities across the US are waiving curfew hours and allowing folks to stay in camps on park property during this pandemic. This should be done here as well. People have been swept from parks regularly here in Denver.
  • Police Harassment – Some police continue to harass people for any number of unnecessary reasons.

Sanitation Resources at Encampments:

  • Hand Washing Stations – To date, the City has not installed any hand-washing station at encampments. The only hand-washing stations that have been placed directly at encampments are placed and maintained by the group Mutual Aid Denver.
  • Portable Bathrooms – To date, the City has not installed any port-a-potties at encampments. With businesses and libraries closed also those options for places to use the bathroom are gone. People are forced to relieve themselves on the streets or maybe at a crowded day center.
  • Trash Cans – To date, the City has not installed any trash cans at encampments. People are forced to wait on random “cleanings” with designated places for trash or regular set trash pick up.
  • Health Care, Education – To date, the City has made some efforts to provide information and hand sanitizer. However, this has not been to the scale of the need.

Housing NOW:

  • To date, the City has 270 hotel units made available for people who are homeless and showing signs and symptoms. This is at least 3,673 units short of the need (that is using PIT court which is a known under-count) and is still only for those who are sick, not the general homeless community.
 
Photo of a protest with men who appear to be homelesll
How can you stay at home without a home?
Take Action!
Call Governor Polis and Demand Housing Now!
(303) 866-2885
 
Contact:
720-940-5291
Denver Homeless Out Lout Logo - Circle with an x and bar across the top.
Denver Homeless Out Loud

Emergency Housing NOW – COVID-19 Crisis Talking Points 

Take Action! Call Governor Polis and Demand Housing Now!

(303) 866-2885
You can use any or all of the talking points below when you call the governor. It is vital that we let him know the inaction being taken for those in need of housing is unacceptable!

The world, including the State of Colorado, is in a state of emergency. In an effort to protect the lives of millions of people against the COVID-19 pandemic, all health agencies and experts advise that protection from this virus requires “social distancing.” Strict orders have been issued for people to stay at home, stay 6 feet away from others, and not gather in groups more than 10. 

Stay at home and social distancing measures are not possible for people who are homeless in the shelters. The best efforts of shelters to have more distance between beds etc will fall short. Because in these conditions hundreds of people in the same room will share the same air, touch the same surfaces, use the same bathrooms, doorknobs, etc. These conditions are contrary to the recommendations of our health professionals. It, in addition, treats people experiencing homelessness as a lesser class not worthy of protection. 

People on the streets can practice social distancing more readily than they can in the shelters. It is actually safer there than in a concentrated shelter environment. Tents allow for safer social distancing as they are in the open-air separated from other tents, plus you have the barrier of the tent itself from airborne risks. Folks outside are not sharing all the same surfaces. However, the government’s refusal to provide bathrooms and handwashing stations at encampments leaves the whole community at greater risk. So it is imperative that both bathrooms and hand washing facilities be provided for all encampments. 

Stay at home orders were put in place because we know homes are the safest place to be in this pandemic – for ourselves and the whole community. In a state of emergency, the Governor has the authority to issue an order for the property to be used for emergency housing. The time for this order is NOW! 

The Governor of Connecticut issued this order to mandate hotels to be opened for this need. It is possible. Businesses and workers of all sorts are making sacrifices to slow this pandemic for the public good. Hotels/motels must do their part. 

Hotel and housing owners are not opening their doors out of goodwill. State, City, and nonprofits have been desperately begging hotel owners for weeks with only 270 available to date in Denver, and far fewer – often none, available in cities across the state. The Governor must issue an executive order and provide resources to ensure housing and hotels are actually opened and people currently living in mass shelters and on the streets get into that safe housing. 

There are at least 9,619 homeless people in Colorado. There are approximately 152,700 vacant housing units in Colorado. We have the resources right in front of us to protect every Coloradan. 

Together with opening safe housing for every Coloradan, the governor must direct the necessary state resources to ensure all people staying in this emergency housing have access to food and any needed supportive services. Strong, BOLD action is required because LIVES are at stake. The time to act is NOW! 

NEW! COVID-19 Information in ASL

Playlist of COVID-19 resources produced through the CDC and other organizations.


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