Article by Angela Nevin
We know that month-long celebrations can fizzle and wane as the month goes by. So, we want to take the opportunity to add a fresh voice to celebrating the individuals who make a difference in the lives of Black Americans with disabilities.
Many people in the history of Black Americans have also been people with disabilities. Just a few to note: Continue reading “In Celebration of Black Americans with Disabilities”
Remembering some of the artists, innovators, and thinkers we lost in the past year.
Continue reading “The Lives They Lived: Carrie Ann Lucas from the New York Times Magazine”
View original article: Carrie Ann Lucas Obituary in the New York Times
By Katharine Q. Seelye
Feb. 27, 2019
Carrie Ann Lucas, who championed people, especially parents, with disabilities and won a major lawsuit to make Kmart more accessible, died on Sunday in Loveland, Colo. She was 47.
Her sister, Courtney Lucas, said the cause was complications of septic shock. Continue reading “Carrie Ann Lucas Obituary in the New York Times (Quoted)”
TO: Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee
FROM: Julie Reiskin, Executive Director, Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition
RE: HB19-1225 and SB 19-191
I am writing on behalf of the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition (CCDC) to ask for your support of HB19-1225 and SB 19-191. CCDC is Colorado’s largest disability-led membership organization. Our mission is to advocate for social justice on behalf of people with all types of disabilities (cross-disability).
CCDC strongly believes and states in our strategic plan that people with disabilities must have both rights and responsibilities. Much of policy work is geared towards creating systems that enable people to engage in the full responsibilities of citizenship. We have made great strides in Colorado, but have a long way to go. Because of the many systemic injustices and barriers faced by people with disabilities, our community is disproportionately affected by poverty, lack of education, and unemployment. These systemic barriers are reversing, but very slowly.
One example is that since 2014 we have had the ability to buy into Medicaid while still being able to engage in competitive employment, and earn and save money. Since having this option the percentage of people with disabilities working full-time and full-year increased from 26-29% (as of 2017 the last year with available data). Therefore we still have more than 70% of people with disabilities are NOT employed full time and full year. Those not able to take advantage of this great program, or those still scarred by years or even decades of being told that work is impossible and savings constitutes some sort of fraud remain in poverty and often are reliant on programs that do not allow them to ever accumulate more than $2000 in all assets combined in any one month. If someone gets an SSDI check of $1200 this means that they could never have more than $800 in the bank.
Because of systemic discrimination, people with disabilities are dramatically overrepresented at every stage in the criminal justice system. Jail is no exception. People in jail are 4 times more likely to have disabilities than people in the general population, and more than half of people in jail have psychiatric disabilities. The injustice of these disparities are heightened in the pretrial conext, where presumptively innocent people may have their lives derailed from pretrial detention for a crime they did not commit or which is so minor that they would never even receive jail as s sentence. I share this to explain why HB 19-1225 and SB 19-191 is so important for people with disabilities.
When someone is detained pending trial a plethora of other problems can occur that are exacerbated by living with a disability.
In some housing situations, particularly assisted living, if one is gone more than a limited number of days one can lose their place. Then the person is not only facing criminal charges, but is now experiencing homelessness. Replacement housing for low-income people with disabilities is very unlikely..especially if there is some sort of criminal record.
Many people with disabilities are living in deep poverty. There is no extra money and they balance every month trying to manage. Fees involved in the criminal justice system add up quickly and if they pay, this is likely to cause the individual to not pay rent, utilities or other bills. Often they will give up services such as their phone, which then removes all of their data, reminder systems, etc. They then are not able to be reached and often get in more trouble for missing deadlines and appearance dates. For people unable to physically write, or those with cognitive disabilities who may have been trained using specialized apps to manage information are particularly hard hit. Finally, people often skimp on food and eat what is cheap, which causes secondary health issues OR they are forced to skip psychiatric medication because they do not have food to take with the meds.
Often when people are kept in jail too long due to problems releasing people after they have posted bond people have other problems. They miss scheduled medications, people who use oxygen may run out. Some people may require oxygen only at night but if they are kept in jail overnight a medical visit is required before the jail can provide oxygen if the individual has none. People in supervised living situations have curfews. Sometimes people are released so late that there is no public transportation. Because jails cannot give family or friends a specific (or even approximate) time, arranging for transportation home is a problem.
Unfortunately, poor people often have many debts. Once someone is involved with the criminal justice system they start incurring fees and fines. This can include fees for taking “classes”, fines for missing said classes, fees for “therapy” groups, and various other charges. When one is again arrested, any fees applied to the new bond should not be taken to address anything else.
HB1225 and SB191 are both smartly aimed at safely and smartly decreasing our pretrial population, in which people with disabilities are hugely overrepresented. Our support of this bill in no way implies that we think people with disabilities should not be held accountable if they commit a crime. What we do want, is a system that will have the punishment be proportional to the crime. Too often we see people with punishments that far exceed the crime. People with disabilities who are arrested should have to answer for their crimes (if they actually committed the crime) but that process should not cause someone to forever lose their housing, cause severe medical complications, or destabilize the person completely.
We believe HB19-1225 and SB 19-191 will help make justice more just in Colorado for the community that we represent and request your support.
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Intersectionality. Social Movements. The Media. Dr. King was recorded, filmed and/or broadcasted saying the following, “We have no moral choice but to continue the struggle, not just for Black Americans, but for all Americans.” “The time is always right to do right;” “We ain’t gonna let nobody turn us around;” “We are here to say, “We are not afraid;’” “You have to create a crisis so the power structures are forced to answer;” “Justice too long delayed is justice denied.”
By now, you all know that CCDC does not close down on Martin Luther King Day. We believe strongly that it would be the wrong way to pay tribute to this great leader for a civil rights organization to close its operations when civil rights is our cause, our work, and our passion! We also believe in the intersectionality of all social movements.
Dr. King stood for and died for social justice for all. Yes, I mean ALL. Let us not honor his short life with pleasant niceties. Our country, our state, our local communities and each one of us are in crisis: The country’s time-clock is being turned backward: Some want a wall to keep people seeking asylum out (sure, they tell it another way), but the yet-to-be explained wall will keep out people who, we are told on TV are “rapists, murderers and drug dealers,” not asylum-seekers.
BORING HISTORY: After I became a quadriplegic after I was already in college, I was trying to figure out a way to make a living so I could afford the things I needed as a person with a disability who needed home healthcare. The year was 1986. The ADA had not yet passed. I had never heard of a “disability rights movement.” I was 19. I lived in South Carolina at the time. I had gone back to college in South Carolina. I did so through self-advocacy, persistence, resistance and fighting all the way. I just didn’t know that I didn’t have to go it alone. I moved to Denver, Colorado in 1990. Something called the “Americans with Disabilities Act” passed in 1990. I came to the Denver area from South Carolina to do my rehab at Craig Hospital in 1986 after my injury. I returned to South Carolina the same year. I had Medicaid. Home healthcare was a joke. Accessibility did not exist. And on and on. I came to Craig again in 1989 to deal with surgery for a skin sore and surgery on my arm to try to improve my functional skills. As a result of that second surgery, my stay was extended. I lived in the outpatient apartments and used home healthcare provided by a Denver agency. I also got to tour Denver. I was astonished that home healthcare services were fantastic. I remember being so afraid of home healthcare when I was 1500 miles from my then home. I was also amazed by the accessibility of the city. This was a year before the passage of the ADA! Then and there I decided to move to Denver. A quadriplegic who did not know anybody and did not understand anything about home healthcare services or accessibility. Other than the fact that I wasn’t getting either in South Carolina. I also did not understand very much about the power and necessity of all social justice movements. Wake up, Kevin!
HISTORY MEETS REALITY: Why? Many of you know: Atlantis/ADAPT! Their work, their struggles, their battles with discrimination, their unnecessary pain and suffering, their protests, their arrests, their political and legislative work, their MEDIA COVERAGE and their lives! That was a big part of my answer. I just didn’t know it yet. To those who have fought and died who I never met, to my friends, to my colleagues, to my clients and to those who have always believed, I fell in love with you and my lower affair continues. And I know you now.
Little by little, by dribs and drabs and by the greatest human fortune, I did learn. I didn’t know. I actually was a part of the disability community. I could do something. I was not alone.
During my undergraduate years at CU Denver, I switched my degree to political science. Law School bound. Still thinking about almighty dollar! Gotta save myself from the worries of my very expensive life. Made more expensive by going to work. After all, without all of those Medicaid dollars, the law would not let me go to work. Dumb system. There I was. Like so many: Subsidized housing. On SSDI/SSI. Medicaid only comes with SSI, right? Go to work = No Medicaid = no health insurance! Must pay for it myself: Pre-existing condition. No private health insurance = approximately $50,000 for home healthcare alone. What about all of those medical supplies? Motorized Wheelchairs? Unbelievable number of doctors’ appointments? Hospitalizations? Must lop that off the top of my salary.
So, why didn’t I know about work incentive programs for people with disabilities? It was a well-kept secret.
Clearly, I still wasn’t woke! But I just might be the luckiest person alive.
WOKE KEVIN: I met members of the disability rights community. I learned their stories. Our stories. I still wanted more school though. I still had to pay for my life.
A voracious reader. Before I read documents all day long as I do now (especially stuff by lawyers working for those who oppose us), I read for pleasure and for understanding. I began reading everything I possibly could about the Civil Rights movements, but mostly about Black Civil Rights. Took every class I could possibly take on socially equality, social injustice, social movements, social legislative change. What it means to be a human in America. Parting the Waters remains a favorite book. The series is good as well.
MARTIN LUTHER KING: And others. Dr. King had the answer. Their work, their struggles, their battles with discrimination, their unnecessary pain and suffering, their economic suppression, their educational inferiority, their voter suppression their protests, their arrests, their political and legislative work, their MEDIA COVERAGE and their lives! But the struggle had to continue. (Sounds exactly like what people with disabilities experience, except we come from a different place undoubtedly. MEDIA COVERAGE of the King movement changed the country, the world and us all. It spawned other movements, including the disability rights movement. The “change” that was “gonna come” came, right? Of course not. The other side has always been there. They seem to be back with a vengeance. We know it. We live it. We oppose it. Is it enough? Of course not. What would King say if he had kept going? Was that dream realized?
Take, for example, the need for the Black Lives Matter! Movement. Message to white people: Stop whining! “I worked very hard all my life from humble beginnings to get where I am at. Nobody gave me anything.” Really, white person (I am talking to myself because I happen to be one). Give me a break. Did a wall stop you and your ancestors from coming to this country? (In the case of Black Americans, the answer is clearly no. A slave ship did. One that was completely owned and operated, staffed, etc. by white people.) Did you devote your life to making the world understand the vestiges of slavery and the current state of denial in the face of civil rights laws protecting your rights? Did you not get a job because you were white (okay, a couple of you got lucky on this point in front of courts that were mostly white)? Were you ever hanging from a tree? How about your ancestors? How many of your friends, colleagues and family members are in prison? Do you know what the current proportion of Blacks versus whites is in our prison system? Did you ever get your head and your body cracked and beaten on your way to the police station? Did you ever have to spend many years meeting with innumerable legislators and many presidential administrations convincing the legislature that you needed civil rights protection? Did you ever “take a knee” to demonstrate against police killing people of your race?
Obviously, the list goes on. Dr. King understood. He was at the start, but he had great luck because visual media began burgeoning at the time of (perhaps because of? ) Dr. King’s movement.
This Martin Luther King Day and every day as fast as you can, get off your usual Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and whatever else. Get on all media focusing on what the day is about. Or just Google or YouTube to find videos posted below this paragraph. Better yet: follow Dr. King’s advice to do something right NOW! Why are some of us still dreaming? Why are so many of us still not caring? Why are so many of us still opposing? Why is Dr. King’s dream NOT a reality 50 years after his assassination? Why are Black people still being murdered in outrageous numbers and in outrageous circumstances? Why are all of us who are not wealthy (and mostly white) not paying attention? Review video and audio below. Find more. Learn. Share it widely!
The awakening can start right now; it as easy as turning your phone away from our usual timewasting activities and do as I just did, Google or YouTube it (actual footage contains violence and language as it happened; some might find reality offensive; original videos contain captioning—may require clicking CC at bottom right of video):
March 7, 1965, “Bloody Sunday.” Edmund Pettus Bridge. Dr. King and many (mostly Black) men, women and teenagers cross bridge into Montgomery, Alabama to ensure Black Americans can vote.
April 5, 1977. Protesters with Disabilities occupy Federal Office. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act prohibiting discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities by programs, services or activities receiving federal funding, but no regulations defining enforcement of the Act had been promulgated.
July 6, 2016. Philando Castille and Diamond Reynolds. Pulled over for a burned out traffic light. Shot and killed by white police officer (captured on police cam) while his girlfriend Diamond Reynolds uses Facebook video livestream to provide instant coverage of what happened inside the car. Obviously there are more.
August 11, 2017. Charlottesville, Virginia. “White Nationalists” and Black protesters clash over request to remove statute of Robert E. Lee. President Trump finds fault with “both sides.”
June 28, 2017. Protestors with disabilities
seeking to prevent loss of Medicaid Arrested at Colorado Senator Cory
Gardner’s Denver office after days of protests trespassing because “office
neighbor’s complained. Sen. Gardner later moved his office to a much less
wheelchair accessible location.
MEDIA attention on protests leads to legislation, maintaining legislation and judicial enforcement of legislation. Or does it? Keeping the dream alive requires all of it. TODAY!
So what will you do in 2019? -Kevin W. Williams, CCDC Civil Rights Legal Program Director
One year ago today, the Department of Justice reached an agreement with the City and County of Denver (“City”) under Project Civic Access (“PCA”), the Department’s initiative to ensure that cities, towns, and counties throughout the country comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). That agreement covers accessibility to numerous programs, services, activities and facilities throughout Denver. The agreement specifically addresses Law Enforcement and Effective Communication, Polling Places, Emergency Management Procedures and Policies, Physical Changes to Emergency Shelters, Web-Based Services and Programs, New Construction, Alterations and Physical Changes to Facilities, Programs for Victims of Domestic Violence and Abuse. Many of the deadlines for compliance occurred today, one year after the effective date of the agreement. Click on these links to review the DOJ Press Release and for the DOJ Settlement Agreement. Also, attached is a PDF version of the Agreement with all of the one-year deadlines highlighted.
The Settlement Agreement contains one error in that it states that “On January 20, 2016, Denver and the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center [“CREEC”] reached a separate agreement addressing accessible sidewalks and curb ramps in Denver.” It is correct that CREEC with the assistance of CCDC reached a class action settlement agreement with the City regarding curb ramps, but sidewalks were not addressed. Click on the link to review the Curb Ramp Settlement Agreement. Click on the link here to see CREEC’s Website. This Settlement Agreement provides for comprehensive curb ramp replacement throughout the City. CCDC is unaware of why the issue of sidewalks was excluded from the DOJ Settlement Agreement with the City because the case involving curb ramps was never intended to address sidewalks and was approved by the court as a class-action settlement on September 9, 2016 before the DOJ Settlement Agreement. Click the link here to review the Order Granting Final Approval of Settlement. The rules and regulations that apply to curb ramps are different from those that apply to sidewalks.
With respect to sidewalks, according to a recent article published in the Denverite, the City has launched a project to install sidewalks where they don’t exist and make additional sidewalk repairs. At this time, CCDC does not have additional information regarding the sidewalk project. Click on the link here to see the Denverite article regarding sidewalks.
According to the Denver Office of Disability Rights’ (“DODR”) website, “The Denver Office of Disability Rights coordinates the City and County of Denver’s efforts to ensure compliance with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Our role is to ensure that all City services and programs are accessible to people with disabilities.” Information is provided on the DODR website regarding curb ramp renovations and installation and the City’s plan for sidewalks and transportation. The DODR is also listed as the agency to which all notifications or communications under the DOJ Settlement Agreement are to be made. Click here for the link for the Denver Office of Disability Rights. The address and other contact information for the DODR is:
Denver Office of Disability Rights
201 W Colfax, Dept 1102
Denver, CO 80202
Legal Program Director
CCDC Civil Rights Legal Program
The CCDC Board of Directors is writing/updating our strategic plan. This is the first of several surveys we will have to get members input. If you get this survey via an email from CCDC then you are a member. https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/5J5PLQW
If you get this survey from another source then you are NOT listed as a member and should join as a member. It is free and you can choose what topics, if any, about which we will contact you. You can join at www.ccdconline.org
Your feedback is important. This survey is about our organizational values. Our current plan summary is attached. stratplansummary
The next survey will be about our VISION.
Thank you for your time.
CCDC wishes congratulations to our new Governor Jared Polis and looks forward to working with this new administration. Our expectations of a new governor are clear and doable. We look forward to advancing the rights of people with disabilities so that we can show our capabilities as full citizens. This means a dramatic increase in the number of people with disabilities who are employed. This means a dramatic improvement in the high school graduation of students with disabilities and making sure that students go to college or some sort of vocational program. This means a government that values people with disabilities by having high expectations and providing appropriate supports. This means a government that involves us at every level…on boards, commissions, as employees in state agencies, and on the transition team. Governor-Elect Polis stated last night that his administration will be inclusive. We expect to be part of this inclusion and to have disability representation in historic proportions and stand ready to help make that happen.
CCDC congratulates all of the representatives and senators that won their seats as well and we look forward to working with all of you on these same goals.
We will be solidifying legislative priorities for the next two years soon but among them will surely be:
1) Increasing protection for renters such as statewide source of income discrimination protection and habitability laws.
2) Extending the Mediciad Buy-In for Working Adults with Disabilities to people over the age of 65 and for more than 10 days in between jobs, even if we have to use state funds. With the federal government giving the states carte blanche we should be able to get approval.
3) Getting safety protections for people living in host homes.
4) Consumer direction for all HCBS services.
5) Improving our case management systems, especially transition from institutions.
We will be focusing on money for solid transportation that has a focus on transit and affordable housing that is inclusive of everyone including those with very low income. We will be working on increased accountability around behavioral health and overall health care in the Medicaid program.
On a federal level with the Democrats having a majority in the house, we will be holding Congresswoman DeGette accountable for her promises to us to fix the Electronic Visit Verification mess and exempt consumer direction and family caregivers. We will also expect help with improved access to quality complex rehab equipment (power wheelchairs) including accountability for repairs.
While Colorado definitely went blue, this does not mean that CCDC will stop working with our Republican allies. We have always been and always will be a bipartisan organization. Our issues cross both parties. Disability does not discriminate.
CCDC was very proud of the VERY STRONG voter turnout in the disability community. Approximately 90% of our members had already voted before Monday and we are sure the rest voted Monday or Tuesday. Voting is the first step of realizing NOTHING ABOUT US WITHOUT US.
Channel 7 News cover story about CCDC helping once again: Julie Reiskin, CCDC Executive Director, quoted.
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