The Quest for Affordable Accessible Housing

The Quest for Affordable Accessible Housing

If you’re like me a physically disabled individual with very limited resources such as Social Security disability being your only source of income it can be very difficult if not impossible to find affordable accessible housing when you are disabled.

 2 Affordable Accessible Housing Programs

Generally, there are 2 types of housing programs that I am aware of 1 of which is section 8 housing which provides vouchers for rent and subsidizes the rent payment under section 8 housing which is a federal program rent is approximately one-third of monthly income.

The second type of housing is public housing both are federal programs administered by County housing authorities. These programs have income and assets requirements that you must meet in order to be eligible generally to be eligible for public housing your income level must be 80% of federal poverty. To be eligible for section 8 housing your income level must be 50 to 80% of federal poverty. Income and asset requirements vary by jurisdiction. The information contained in this article is intended strictly as guidance you should check with your County Housing Authority to determine purpose besides income and asset requirements.

I am originally from Bucks County Pennsylvania. When I last applied for public housing the income limits the eligible was $15,000 a year. Also, assets affected eligibility for example if you owned a house the value of that house would count against you and prevent you from being eligible. There is also a 3 to 5 year period related to asset transfers. Individuals would frequently try to transfer assets to children in order to render themselves eligible for public housing. I would strongly advise honesty in the reporting of income and assets to avoid misrepresentation fraud and ineligibility for a substantial period of time.

accessible housing section 8 housing

Waiting Lists

Many housing authorities also have waiting lists. In which the application was received. It is also important to note that many local housing authorities have stopped receiving applications. In many housing authorities, there are no disability accessible units such as Burlington County New Jersey. When you apply, you are placed on the back of the housing list as dwellings become available people move up on the list based upon the time applying for section 8 housing may make it possible to obtain an apartment more quickly.

When Accepted

Once you are accepted into public housing you will be required to put down a 1st and last month security deposit. When you are in public housing, it is important to pay your rent on time and keep your other bills current. Also, you must comply with all federal state and local regulations with regard to occupancy in the past I’ve heard stories of many individuals who have lost their federal lease due to having more individuals in the apartment and were listed on the lease. Also, many individuals have lost their lease and access to federal housing because of drug use or other illegal activity.

Discriminations

Providers of the accessible housing may not discriminate on the basis of disability under the fair housing act a disability is defined as an impairment which affects a major life activity just like the ADA the definition under the federal fair housing act also covers people perceived as having a disability or having a record of such impairment. Your landlord cannot discriminate simply because he or she is uncomfortable with your disability. I would advise the following steps in summation:

(1) contact your county Housing Authority to determine eligibility requirements

(2) gather all of your available financial information.

(3) gather information related to your disability most times a simple letter stating the nature of your disability and limitations will suffice.

(4) apply for both section 8 subsidized housing and public housing.

(5) once you have obtained a rental voucher look for an apartment taking into account its location so that you are close to public transportation so you can get to your doctor appointments and your job.

(6) once you have found an appropriate apartment and been accepted make a written request for reasonable accommodation.

(7) if the possible fight to save up money to pay for the necessary accommodations.

If this is not possible in light of your circumstances look for grants that help disabled people pay for modifications. I wish you all success in your quest for independent living and accessible housing.  Discrimination in housing is not permitted. Public areas must be made accessible under title III of the Americans With Disabilities Act. There are many rights in housing for people with disabilities.

Modifications

Under the fair housing act landlord’s must permit the modification to allow the disabled person full use and enjoyment of the property the cost of the modifications are the responsibility of the tenant examples of reasonable accommodations include lowering of entranceways installing a ramp widening doorways on the inside of the premises. A ramp may be built on the outside of the premises to render a public area more accessible. Another necessary reasonable accommodation is a reserved handicap parking spot in front of your apartment even if no other parking spots are reserved.

Importance of Education

Importance of Education

I think most every one would agree that having a good education is paramount  in living in today’s society.  This is especially true for those with complex disabilities.  I was born with cerebral palsy at a time in history when institutionalization was the only option.  Being African American and female made it even more unlikely that I would survive what society had to offer.  However, my mother insisted that I  be educated similarly to my able-bodied brother just 15 months older.  In the 1950’s, there was no documented information to contradict what my mother said was possible.  Therefore, the professionals did as my mother instructed.  Contrary to the common practice at the time, the diagnosis of “mentally retarded” was not ascribed to me.  When it was  suggested, my mother said that he had taught me how to read.  Her insistence that she was able to understand my very difficult speaking pattern kept that label absent from all records regarding my diagnosis of Athetoid Cerebral Palsy.

Beyond a Bachelor

Having excelled through all academic endeavors through a Masters Degree from the Pennsylvania State University, I accomplished many years of professional experience.  I continue to emphasize  those very early years because the United States sees to be going backwards, at least in any parts of the country.

In my self published memoir, It’s Easier to Dance – Living Beyond Boundaries https://www.amazon.com/Annie-Harris-Meachem/e/B06XK69F55, I emphasize the complexities of being disabled and of multicultural heritage.  It is a reality that has yet to be addressed in our country.

Eliminating Plastic Straws – Are You Joking Us?

Eliminating Plastic Straws – Are You Joking Us?

On a hot sunny day, you are out and about and need a super cold drink.  You just go to a fast food restaurant and ask for a large drink of your favorite beverage. They hand you your drink and you ask them for a straw. The restaurant tells you that they don’t carry straws anymore. They are eliminating plastic straws – why?

Paper Straws

I heard that they are going toward using paper straws, but I do not know how that would work. For me, I know paper straws will never work for me because most plastic straws don’t work for me unless it is kind of hard. People with disabilities often use straws so that they don’t get their clothes messed up.

Saving the Environment

I understand that they want to save the environment, but sometimes people have to think about what would happen if they eliminate something all together. I think it is doing injustice for the society and if we just let them keep doing this, what is next? They want to eliminate making old buildings accessible with the HR620 bill.

eliminating plastic straws colorful straws

Independence vs Eliminating Plastic Straws

By eliminating plastic straws, they are making people with disabilities more dependent on other people. What do I mean by this? Well, most people who use straws and are a person with a disability can drink by their selves. If plastic straws are eliminated, people with disabilities will be more dependent on other people. If you look at the society as a whole, people with disabilities are not needed and if we get more dependent on others, who know what they might want to do next. I don’t mean that they are eliminating plastic straws to make our lives more difficult. It is that they are more worried about the planet, which is good to a point, but if people would recycle the straws like they should be doing, this would never happen.

Help

What can we do as a community? There are a few things that we can do. First, share this post with your friends. Most likely people don’t know about this or second they don’t realize that people with disabilities need plastic straws to drink. The second thing that we can do is when we go to restaurants, we should tell the manager that you need plastic straws to drink and ask them nicely to continue to provide plastic straws. By doing this, you are teaching them that people do need plastic straws and it is necessary to have them.

Eliminating plastic straws is good for the environment, but it is affecting people’s lives. People with disabilities have the rights to ask for a straw that works for them when they are in public. We want to stay clean as possible when we eat out, and straws are one way that keeps us clean.

Social Security Can a Blessing for People With Disabilities

Social Security Can a Blessing for People With Disabilities

When my father passed away in 1991, I became eligible for Social Security disability insurance after being an SSI recipient. It did not take away the pain of his loss but it helped me to function more easily in the world without him. If a parent is disabled their children may receive Social Security benefits until they reach the age of 18. The number of credit you need to ensure that a family member is eligible for survivors benefits depends on your age when you die.

Qualifications for  Social Security

Generally to be eligible for Social Security disability benefits a person must have 10 years of work 20/40 quarters. The younger you are the fewer quarters you need. When I turned 18 I became eligible for supplemental security income even though I lived with my parents. The income eligibility requirements for SSI are as follows an individual can earn no more than $750 per month and can have no more than $2000 in assets.

A disabled couple can have no more income $1025 per month and have no more than $3000 in assets. The rules regarding employment income and SSI are very strict you must pay back one dollar and benefit for every dollar you earn. As an example when I was on SSI in the late 80s my father eventually $250 for a needed new American printing house for the blind recorder. The Social Security Administration was going to reduce my benefit. I had to agree to pay it back and $50 monthly installments to my father in $50 per month installments.

social security imagine

Age for Benefits

The number of work credits a person has at a given age determines whether they are eligible for Social Security disability benefits. If a person becomes disabled prior to the age of 24 they must earn 6 credits within the 3 year period before their disability starts. If you become disabled after the age 24 you must work half the time prior to the onset of your disability. The onset date is the date disability starts. If you’re disabled and were working there is a 4 month waiting period in which your income must be below the substantial gainful activity amount. There is also an emergency procedure for getting reinstated if you have to stop working. Please contact your local Social Security office to obtain current and accurate advice as to your eligibility.

Disability Rules as Defined by the Social Security Administration

A disability must last a year or more and affect a major life activity. The individual must be unable to perform any substantial gainful activity. Substantial gainful activity is defined as any month in which the individual earns $1170. It is possible to receive what is called a trial work. This is a nine-month period in which the disabled person can earn as much as possible and maintain his benefit. After the trial work. If the person continues to earn benefits payment of benefits would stop. It is possible to have to try work periods without losing benefits. I had one trial work. Of 9 months during my years in law practice and another trial work. When I worked for the Social Security Administration. I strongly advise that you consult with the Social Security Administration to determine actual eligibility since the rules can change.

Disability and Job Market

As I’m sure most of you already know it can be difficult  finding a job when you’re physically disabled. Upon my graduation from law school in 1994, I applied for 1500 jobs which I believed I was qualified for and did not receive any job offers. Under the Americans With Disabilities Act, employer’s are required to pay for reasonable accommodations. They are not required to pay if the accommodation would represent a hardship given the size of the business and its resources. 1 of the reasons I believe I was not hired by any private law firm or District Attorney’s Office could have been the accommodations.

The Bucks County District Attorney’s Office where I was employed as an intern in the summers of 1992 and 93 did not hire me after graduation instead they hired a hearing impaired attorney that would require less commendation than I. I may have needed. In this area constitute speculation and I have no actual proof. As we discussed in an earlier post title I of the Americans With Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination based on disability in hiring. If the reason for the employer’s not hiring is based on! another reason other than disability the employer can refuse to hire you.

Generally, the employer is not permitted to ask questions regarding your disability during a hiring interview. It must be noted that there have been occasions where I did not get hired because I did not discuss needed accommodations. My experience has shown that it is probably better, in the long run, to discuss needed accommodations when you are close to being hired. If the employer is truly interested I believe that they will make reasonable adjustments for you.

Section 504 of Rehabilitation Act of 1973 Gave Rights for Education

Section 504 of Rehabilitation Act of 1973 Gave Rights for Education

My name is Anthony Fiorani and I have Cerebral Palsy. I received my law degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  My practice areas included employment discrimination educational due process as well as wills and estates. I also served as a claims representative for the Social Security Administration. Today we are going to talk about section 504 on the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Educational Due Process in the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

I like to provide a general knowledge of statutes related to disability. So you have a disabled child, of course,” you want to do everything you can medically to make your child as healthy as possible, but you also want to have a basic legal framework related to benefits available to your child to provide possible sources of government benefits and programs to help meet your child’s needs. My first exposure to educational due process came as a student in special education classes in Bucks County Pennsylvania the intermediate unit number 22. My father and mother were very skilled at negotiating with educational professionals. They often felt as though their views were not respected. In the past educators may have acted as though they knew more than the child’s parents themselves.

rehabilitation act of 1973 504 education

Rights for Education

Today this may not be the case educational professionals are very skilled, and take into account the views of parents. Every child is entitled to a free appropriate public education in the United States. No school program receiving federal funds is entitled to discriminate on the basis of disability. These legal rights stem from the rehabilitation act of 1973 section 504. The school system is required to meet the needs of the disabled child just as they do an able-bodied child.

List of Services

The list of available services can include but is not limited to nurses who specialize in diabetes care and wraparound’s for children with autism to help them concentrate on their work. The services listed in the previous sentence are not intended to be exhaustive because each disability is different and requires different services. School districts are required to prepare individualized education programs if the student has been certified as disabled. Parents teachers and other relevant educational professionals must agree on the educational program for each child. Even in today’s age of increased awareness parents must be vigilant to ensure that the children’s rights are protected. Parents are required to sign the individualized education program.

Fight for Your Child

One strategy that might prove useful in improving your child’s education program is not to sign your child’s education program until the necessary services are provided. Today most educational professionals are very skilled and take into account input from the parent and child. Historically teaching professionals would act as if they had more knowledge than the parents this may not necessarily be the case it is important for both sides to listen and come up with a plan that is best for each individual child. If the parent and teacher cannot agree on an educational program there are provisions within the law for a due process hearing and an eventual appeal to the federal court if the outcome proves not to be favorable.

My Sister

My father took the intermediate unit to a due process hearing when he tried to move my sister who is hearing-impaired to the Philadelphia school for the deaf because he thought the programs would be better for her. We lost at the due process hearing level because our family did not have the resources to make an appeal to federal court. This information related to the law Is Intended to be general and may not be applicable to all states and all situations I therefore strongly advise that you seek the advice of trained legal professionals before implementing the information contained in this article.

Section 504 really helped my sister and me to get the proper education that we ought to have.

Is Moving Out With a Disability Even Possible?

Is Moving Out With a Disability Even Possible?

When someone moves out on their own, the person feels like they are starting a new chapter in their life. There is a new sense of enthusiasm for them, but people with disabilities often can’t move out on their own. Moving out with a disability is a struggle. People with disabilities don’t have the income to live on their own. Many of these people are getting SSI, which is Supplemental Security Income. This is a federal government program to provide money for people with disabilities to live on.

SSI

This year in 2018, the average amount that a person makes on SSI is $750 a month. If it is a married person with a spouse, the amount is $1,125 a month. This is from the Social Security website. This amount is not even possible for someone to move out on their own. The lowest cost for an apartment is $632 in Wichita, KS, and the highest is $4, 079 in Manhattan, NY. These amounts were gathered from Culture Trip’s website. Moving out with a disability into an apartment without financial assistance is nearly impossible.

Renting an Apartment

If we were to rent the cheapest apartment in Wichita, KS with our SSI money, we surely would not survive. For this amount of money for an apartment, we have to say it would be really tiny so you cannot able to get a power wheelchair in the place at all. So many people with disabilities often live with their parents.

Caregivers

The statistics say that the age of caregivers is increasing to a point where they are no longer able to help the person with a disability. I was in her this situation in 2010, where my dad was helping me and my mom who had Alzheimer’s. It was really hard for my dad and I knew that I had to move out on my own. I was lucky to be able to support myself on what I saved while I worked and invested.

What can someone who is in a situation where they have to move out? Well, that is an interesting question and scary subject to face. Let’s face reality first. Many of these people who are in this situation are placed in nursing homes because there is nowhere else to go. In 2010, there was an article that said the population that is growing the fastest in nursing homes is the age of 31 to 64. This made up of 14% of the population in nursing homes. I bet this statistics is rising today.

moving out with a disability  a disabled guy in the kitchen

Solution?

The question now is what can someone do. There are a few things that you can do. One thing is to get on Section 8 housing. It is a voucher program where people who struggle with paying rent can find affordable housing through the program. Section 8 started in 1937. This voucher program opens and closes letting people on the waiting list get a voucher. It is not a short process so you should try to get on the list as soon as possible they said in 2013, the waiting length was three to five years and this was five years ago.

Assistive Living Housing

There are a lot of assistive living homes being built around the country. You might want to check some of them out and see if anyone would be good for you. I would suggest that you should come up with some questions to ask them. If you have a list, you can ask the same questions when you go to several places. It might help you.

Moving out with a disability is hard to do, but you can do it. It might take some time to get things set it up. You can never give up trying.