Wednesday, May 25, 2005

OCDAC Newsletter May 25, 2005

Dear Friends and Supporters,

Our weekly musings is beginning to take up a structured form similar
to what we had with our Deaf Watch Newsletters in the past. With the
exception of our special bulletins, you will receive email from us
just once a week as feedback prefers it all on a single email
message. Typos may appear in the newsletters as we all are common
human beings just like you.

-------------< INSIDE NEWS >

Our Family Empowerment Center grant has started to roll in last
Thursday. We have added a magazine store to our website. Our
website has taken on a new look with a lot of updates. Our OC-Fair
booth materials have begun to roll in. We have started to accumulate
materials for our Tustin Street Fair food stand fundraiser. Our
classroom has acquired a book rack and it needs to be painted in
bright colors. Our monthly meeting agendas are now available for
downloading at our website. We have begun the process of enhancing
our intake procedures which includes gathering additional information
of our clients.

We have a garage sale fundraiser at 16765 Fontlee Lane, Fontana,
California 92355 this coming Friday (27), Saturday (28), and Sunday
(29) from 8 am through 8pm. Donations to our Thrift Store Project
will be sold there. We have many different items for sale.

-------------< OUTSIDE NEWS >

Deaf school to publish names of parents who abandon children
http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/artikel.php?ID=82189

Tax to provide telephone services for deaf to drop slightly
http://www.grandforks.com/mld/grandforks/11728568.htm

National Association for the Deaf Making Noise About 'Idol'
http://celebrityjustice.warnerbros.com/news/0505/24a.html

Student from school for deaf will venture into hearing college
http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascitystar/news/local/states/kansas/
counties/johnson_county/cities_neighborhoods/olathe/11728341.htm

-------------< BULLETIN >

ATTENTION DEAF PEOPLE WHO HAVE MYSTERIOUS PROBLEMS WITH THE DISNEY
COMPANY.

We are looking for DEAF People and others who have problems with the
Disney Company:

--apply, and no call back?
--apply, but no interview because deaf/ interpreter issue?
--apply, interview, but no interpreter or captions?
--got job, but now no interpreter for staff meetings?
--you feel punished because after being hired youre excluded from
training's, staff meetings, or other staff events?

(1) NEED YOUR NAME AND (2) ADDRESS (3) and E-mail (4) explanation of
your problem with The Disney Company.

We work with Morse Mehrban who is a rising star in the field of
disability access litigation. Morse needs to know about this no
later than September 4, 2005. Please email ocdac@deafadvocacy.com
and please use 'Disney Problems' in the subject line.

-------------< ADVOCACY NEWS >

The Technical Assistance Collaborative is a national non-profit
organization that works to achieve positive outcomes on behalf of
people with disabilities, people who are homeless, and people with
other special needs by providing state-of-the-art information,
capacity building, and technical expertise to organizations and
policymakers in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, human
services, and affordable housing.

The following message was prepared by the Technical Assistance
Collaborative:

Section 8 Voucher Proposal Closes the Door on People with Disabilities

Legislation developed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban
Development (HUD) has been introduced in Congress. The State and
Local Housing Flexibility Act of 2005 (S. 771/H.R. 1999) would end
the existing Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program and replace it
with a new Flexible Voucher Program. The provisions of the Flexible
Voucher Program would be disastrous for people with disabilities and
particularly to those who rely on Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
benefits. Similar to previous unsuccessful HUD proposals made in 2003
and 2004, the Flexible Voucher Program would undermine critically
important federal housing policies that benefit people with
disabilities. It would also eliminate valuable civil rights and fair
housing protections that help people with disabilities access federal
housing programs.

The Technical Assistance Collaborative, Inc. (TAC) is strongly
opposed to S. 771/HR. 1999, which would re-direct vouchers
desperately needed by extremely low-income households to higher
income households. The Flexible Voucher Program would assist
households with incomes as high as 60-80 percent of median income and
who already benefit from many other federal housing programs. This
change would leave people with disabilities with extremely low
incomes behind particularly those who rely on SSI payments equal to
only 18 percent of area median income. The current Section 8 Housing
Choice Voucher program is the only program remaining in the safety
net of federal housing programs for people with the most severe
disabilities who must survive on a monthly income of $600 per month
or less.

In June, TAC will release an important study that documents without
question how people with disabilities are those most in need of
federal housing assistance. This study, Priced Out in 2003-2004, will
show that people with disabilities are three times more likely to
have extremely low incomes than non-disabled households. This study
also documents that the average rent for a modest apartment in 2004
cost more than the entire monthly income of a person with
disabilities receiving SSI. By eliminating rules that benefit these
and other extremely low-income households, the proponents of the
Flexible Voucher Program are sending a very clear message that the
needs of the poorest and most vulnerable people in our society should
no longer be a priority in our nations housing policy.

Flexible Voucher Proposal Would Seriously Harm People with
Disabilities

TAC strongly believes that this proposed legislation would completely
erode federal housing assistance for the poorest people with
disabilities. It would also promote discrimination against people
with disabilities. The legislation combined with HUDs FY 2006 budget
proposal to eliminate the production of housing for people with
disabilities under the Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons
with Disabilities Program would totally undermine stated
Administration disability policy goals to promote community
integration through the New Freedom Initiative and to end chronic
homelessness by 2012.

The Administrations Flexible Voucher proposal would cause serious
harm to people with disabilities in the following ways:

The proposal would eliminate all targeting to the lowest income
households at or below 30 percent of area median income. Thus it
would severely curtail access to vouchers by people with disabilities
receiving SSI. The extremely low income targeting in the current
Section 8 voucher program has helped hundreds of thousands of people
with disabilities to live in the community;

Eligibility for vouchers would be expanded to higher income
households. Households with incomes as high as 80 percent of median
income could receive Flexible Vouchers. These higher income
households are already the primary beneficiaries of many other
federal housing programs including the HOME program and the federal
Low Income Housing Tax Credit program;

Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) would be permitted to use the funding
exclusively for homeownership for higher income households closing
the doors on many people with disabilities who need rental housing;

People with disabilities could be required to pay much higher rents
than they can afford. Current rules limiting tenant rents to 30-40
percent of income would be eliminated;

In direct opposition to federal fair housing laws and the Americans
with Disabilities Act, PHAs would be permitted to adopt tenant
selection policies that would have the effect of excluding some
disability sub-populations in favor of others. These preferences
would also have the potential to create highly segregated housing a
practice, which perpetuates stigma and housing discrimination;

Rules requiring PHAs to permit voucher holders to move to other
localities would be eliminated;

CCD recognizes that S 771/H.R. 1999 exempts people with disabilities
from arbitrary time limits on the duration of rental assistance under
the flexible voucher program. Unfortunately, this policy exempting
people with disabilities is undermined by other provisions in this
legislation that will allow housing agencies unfettered discretion to
increase rent contributions for voucher holders with disabilities;

Congress would no longer have the authority as it has for the past
seven years to target Section 8 vouchers for people with disabilities
who have lost housing due to elderly-only policies. Over 50,000
people with currently funded disability vouchers would be at-risk; and

The Flexible Voucher Program legislation eliminates extremely
valuable civil rights protections for people with disabilities.

New Study Provides Compelling Evidence of Disproportionate Harm to
People with Disabilities

In June, TAC will release a new study that clearly documents how
people with disabilities would be disproportionately and adversely
affected if the Flexible Voucher Program becomes law. This study
Priced Out in 2003-2004 for the first time uses both American
Community Survey data and SSI data to document the urgent housing
affordability housing crisis faced by people with disabilities in our
nation. The study provides compelling evidence of the high priority
housing needs of people with disabilities evidence that directly and
starkly rebuts the policy direction being proposed by proponents of
the Flexible Voucher Program.

Specifically, Priced Out in 2003-2004 documents that:

People with disabilities are much more likely to have extremely low
incomes than non-disabled households and are therefore greatly over-
represented in the extremely low-income category. Specifically,
people with disabilities between the ages of 21-64 are almost three
times more likely to have incomes at or below 30 percent of area
median income than households without disabilities;

In 2003, one person households with disabilities between the ages of
21-64 were 3= times more likely than one person households without
disabilities to have extremely low incomes;

According to ACS data, 50.9 percent of all non-elderly single person
households with disabilities in the United States have extremely low
incomes as compared to 14.9 percent of non-disabled households in the
same age group;

The approximately 4 million extremely low-income non-elderly people
with disabilities living on SSI have incomes well below 30 percent of
median.

Preliminary national data from Priced Out in 2003-2004 indicates that
SSI payments in 2004 equaled only 17 percent of median as a national
average well below the 30 percent of area median income ceiling for
extremely low income households; and

Preliminary national data from Priced Out in 2003-2004 also shows
that average monthly rents for modest rental housing were still
higher than monthly SSI payments in 2004. This data means that people
with disabilities are still completely priced out of the nations
rental housing supply unless they can obtain subsidized housing
through programs like the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program.

According to recent SSI Annual Statistics, only nine percent of non-
institutionalized people receiving SSI receive housing assistance.

The current Section 8 program represents a potential lifeline for
people with disabilities who rely on SSI, as well as other low income
people with disabilities who simply cannot afford the cost of rental
housing.

Without vouchers, they remain in institutions, are forced into
seriously substandard housing or congregate board and care type
facilities, or into homelessness. Section 8 vouchers are also needed
by people with disabilities who are no longer eligible to move in to
public housing.

Over 500,000 units of HUD public and assisted housing now have
elderly only policies, and more units are converted to elderly only
every day.

HUD's Flawed Rationale

For the past two years, HUD officials have repeatedly stated that a
new and more flexible voucher program controlled by local housing
officials would be more effective and cost-efficient. The disability
community knows better than to believe this rationale for reducing
the federal governmentb s role in providing housing assistance to
those most in need.

The question that HUD and others who support this proposal must
answer is, effective and cost-efficient for whom? Eliminating the
Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher programs income targeting policies
that now benefit extremely low-income households means that Public
Housing Agencies would have absolutely no incentive or obligation to
assist these households in the future.

Pressure on PHA voucher budgets a reality clearly illustrated during
the past two years when Congress did not fund all authorized vouchers
could mean that PHAs will assist more households with higher incomes
because they cost less to serve. Some PHAs would be pressured to
dedicate substantial amounts of Flexible Voucher funding for more
politically popular homeownership programs.

Across the country, housing advocates and self-advocates know first
hand what often happens when local housing officials have control
over who receives federal housing funds. For the past ten years, TAC
has documented that in many communities, people with disabilities
with the lowest incomes rarely benefit from other federal housing
programs such as the HOME program. The role of Congress and HUD in
directing precious housing funding to those most in need must be
preserved.

Protections for Voucher Recipients with Disabilities Misleading

Section 105 of the bill contains a provision that appears to protect
voucher holders with disabilities. Specifically, the provision would
allow existing voucher holders to continue receiving assistance under
current program rules through January 1, 2009. After January 1, 2009
all elderly and disabled voucher holders would be subject to
provisions in the legislation that allow for higher tenant rent
contributions. This provision appears to offer some protection for
vulnerable voucher recipients with disabilities. However, this
protection is significantly undermined by another provision in the
legislation that allows a PHA to immediately put in place new rules
for higher tenant rent contributions for new voucher holders with
disabilities.

TAC is troubled by this inadequate protection for people with
disabilities because it fails to account for the needs of individuals
with long-term chronic or permanent disabilities who will need
housing stability beyond January 1, 2009. Further, this provision
offers no protection for people
with disabilities currently on Section 8 waiting lists who may not be
selected due to higher income targeting requirements that PHAs will
be putting in place immediately after the bills effective date.

Civil Rights and Discrimination Issues

The Flexible Voucher Program legislation contains disturbing
provisions that TAC believes would promote and increase housing
discrimination and segregation. The legislation also eliminates many
civil rights protections that people with disabilities need and use
successfully in the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program.
Specifically, the legislation would permit PHAs to create disability-
specific preferences that would have the affect of reducing or
eliminating access to vouchers by people with other disabilities. For
example, PHAs could establish a preference for people mobility
impairments that would have the affect of discriminating against
people with mental disabilities. This feature of the Flexible Voucher
Program would also result in segregated housing that promotes both
stigma and discrimination, and would roll back much of the progress
achieved by people with disabilities through the Section 8 Housing
Choice Voucher program during the past 10 years. For example, the
bill fails to include important features of the Section 8 program
that help people with disabilities such as provisions that explicitly
cover live-in personal care attendants. . In addition, it appears
that this provision would also permit disability-specific public
housing.

Conclusion

The current Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program is the most
important federal housing resource to address the housing needs of
households with extremely low incomes especially people with
disabilities who are disproportionately represented within that
income category. TAC encourages advocates to contact their members of
Congress and urge them to immediately and soundly reject the Flexible
Voucher Program proposal because it would severely and negatively
affect the most vulnerable people with disabilities. After two years
and two other failed Administration proposals, TAC believes that it
is extremely important for Congress to immediately restore the
credibility and viability of the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher
program, which continues to be at-risk because of these ill-advised
proposals. TAC believes that it is vitally important for Congress to
continue to have the direct authority to ensure adequate funding for
the program, and to retain control of important policies including
income targeting and tenant selection policies to ensure that people
with disabilities who are the most in need of housing assistance in
this country are not left behind!

Technical Assistance Collaborative, Inc.
May 4, 2005

TAC is a national organization that works to achieve positive
outcomes on behalf of people with disabilities or other special needs
by providing state-of-the-art information, capacity building, and
technical expertise to organizations and policymakers in the areas of
mental health, substance abuse, human services, and affordable
housing.

Write a letter to your Senators Write a letter to your Congressman

Technical Assistance Collaborative
535 Boylston Street
Suite 1301
Boston, MA 02116

Phone: (617) 266-5657
Fax: (617) 266-4343
Web site: http://www.tacinc.org
E-mail: info@tacinc.org

-------------< ANNOUNCEMENTS >

Please visit our iGive store http://www.igive.com/ocdac

Please visit our magazine fundrsiser website at
http://mygrouppage2.efundraising.com/RedirectToQsp.aspx?gID=858b7146-
edd6-494f-af79-78f344212431&cID=8xu1C5nt7Xs

Deafsportlawsuit.com has more articles for you to read.

Alldeaf.com remains one of the best deaf forum sites.

-------------< DEAF QUOTES >

"I am Deaf of Deaf of Deaf. We're ready to take what should be
ours." Jeff Bravin at a 1994 protest.

"Marriage, baby, house, job... I will leave hospital. I will live
normal life" Alberto Valdez in 1989

-------------< EPILOG >

If you wish to contribute to this newsletter, feel free to send in
news, stories, and opinions relating to the disability community.
Your support for this effort to move the disability community forward
will be greatly appreciated. We will continue to aggressively
pursue justice, fairness, and equality for the disability community
as it has been doing since November 1996. We have chosen that
EDUCATION is the best way accomplish this objective.

Orange County Deaf Advocacy Center is a community based organization
that puts people with disabilities first in their advocacy for equal
opportunities in safety, health, and productive living.