Dela, on her wheelchair, taking a walk through Chinatown with a friend

Disability Advocates Coming Together For A Common Cause: Accessible Housing
Housing: Online Resources for Self-Advocacy
Payday Advance Loan Lawsuit Settlement
Save this date: Public Meeting at ILRCSF
Get Out The Vote: Online Voter Resources and Registration
Presidential Candidates Speak Out About Disability Issues - Save This Date!
ILRCSF's Device Lending Library: AT Can Help Make Your Home More Accessible
ALERT: Accessibility Lawsuit Settlement - You May Be Eligible To Claim and Collect
Economic Empowerment Workshops at ILRCSF
SPEAK Up - Make Your Voice Heard Re Healthcare
Quick Links

The Advocacy Newsletter of ILRCSF


Housing, Accessibility, Section 811, and What It All Means to People with Disabilities


The other day, I spent time with 2 lovely children, O and Z, who wanted to know where I worked. I tried to put into the simplest terms for them what ILRCSF was all about.


"People with disabilities come to my workplace because they want to know what their rights are," I said, "or because they've got ideas about how they can be independent, but maybe they need support or information before they can put their ideas into action. They come to us with all sorts of questions about what's available to them, and we try our best to answer those questions, ourselves, or help them find the answers from someone else." 


"What's the hardest kind of question you ever have to answer?" O asked.


I didn't have to think twice before responding to this question: the answer was obvious.


"The hardest kinds of questions are the ones about finding a place to live," I said, "Imagine you're a person with a disability. Maybe you use a wheelchair or walker to get around. And then imagine that there's a house you'd like to live in, except it's got one, small step right by the front door. If you lived in that apartment, how do you think you'de get in and out?"


"I know!" exclaimed Z, "Someone could come and pick you up and carry you over the step when you needed to go outside. And then when you got home, later, they could pick you up and carry you back over the step and take you inside."


"That's true," I said, "That would be one way to get in and out, but can you imagine having to wait around all the time, for someone to pick you up and carry you out of the house?"


"You'd be sort of trapped," said O.


"You sure would be," I replied, "Do you think that sounds very independent? Having to rely on someone who is strong enough to pick you up just so you can go out and get some sun, or visit a friend, or go to school, or work?"


Both children agreed that it didn't sound like a very good plan, after all. 


"If you use a wheelchair, it's probably a better idea to live in a house where there are no steps, so you never have to wait around for someone, and you can do whatever you like." said Z.


A six year old had just come to the very logical conclusion that people with disabilities need housing that is fully accessible. 


In order for people with disabilities to live independently, there needs to be an ample number of housing units in any given area that are not only affordable, but fully accessible. A Section 8 voucher is only useful to a person with a disability if there's a rental property that's actually accessible to her. Independent, community-based living is one of the goals ILRCSF helps people achieve. We recognized, long ago, that it wasn't enough to fight for more affordable rental units, or more rental units aimed at people who were considered low-income. It's been clear to us for years that what is needed is a lot more affordable housing that's accessible, and readily available to people with disabilities. 


A Little History


Prior to1990,  all adults with disabilities could live in Federally-funded senior housing, most of which has been designed with accessibility features. In 1990, federal housing law was changed making people under a certain age ineligible to live in this housing . This change, in effect, removed a large chunk of affordable, accessible housing units from the market for anyone but senior citizens. It resulted in people with disabilities who were not senior citizens having very few options regarding housing. 


Section 811 housing is what the disability community received as a consolation prize. The 1990 legislation  limited buildings built with Section 811 funds to 25 or fewer units and required them to have on-site services for tenants. Given this requirement, most of these buildings were built for persons with only one type of disability (such as mental illness, or mobility impairment). Critics in the disability community charged that HUD was financing " ghettos" for tenants with disabilities. Other disability advocates were just happy to see more accessible units on the market.


Where We Stand Today: SOLIDARITY


To say that the idea of Section 811 can be a divisive concept is putting it mildly. The fact is, though - while not every disability advocate agrees about the value of the Section 811 model, we all share a common bond: we're united in striving for the rights of people with disabilities to live where and how they see fit, and for accessible community living options to be made available and affordable. This is why, in January 2011, the whole disability community was pleased when President Obama signed into law the Frank Melville Act, establishing pilot programs allowing Section 811 funding to be used in conjunction with other types of funding, in mixed-population buildings. 


August 8 of this year was  HUD's deadline for applications from states (not individual landlords) to receive Section 811 funding from this pilot program. ILRCSF was among the major players in explaining California's Section 811 application to other California ILC's and soliciting letters of support from agencies statewide.  But ILRCSF was not alone. We have powerful allies in the disability rights community.


This is is an example of where forming a united front really pays off. Among our partners in this effort has been Placer Independent Resources (PIRS) in Auburn, CA. 


"PIRS is excited to work on this project even though our rural area is not targeted to benefit from the grant if it is funded," says Tink Miller of PIRS, "We believe this is an important investment of our time to forge this relationship for the long term.  Ultimately, in the future, we do expect that our rural communities will be included and our consumers will benefit as other grant proposals are developed.  The door is open now." 


If California gets this Section 811 funding, the California Housing Finance Agency, with the help of other state agencies, will disburse the funds in several counties. These funds will subsidize rents for non-senior adults with disabilities who have extremely low incomes  who qualify for long-term care services under Medi-Cal. Some of these tenants will be exiting nursing homes, and the others will be tenants judged "at serious risk of institutionalization."


These tenants will live in accessible apartments integrated into mainstream buildings - not buildings specifically designated for people with disabilities. No more than 25% of the units in any one building can receive this funding, and the units must be dispersed throughout the property (not just on one floor), avoiding "ghettoization."


"It's my hope that, when this year's Section 811 funds are spent and everyone can see how well the pilot program for integrated housing works, HUD will make more funds for integrated housing available for people with disabilities in future years," says ILRCSF Executive Director, Jessie Lorenz. "I'm also excited and energized by the fact that this issue has given the community of disability rights advocates the opportunity  to work together towards a common goal. There's real strength in numbers, and California is teeming with amazingly bright and determined advocates who I'm lucky enough to call my colleagues."








Everyone who can vote, should vote!  

Self Advocacy Online: Housing Rights for People With Disabilities
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has a wealth of information online about housing and people with disabilities. Their internet portal, which includes links to other related sites, also provides contact information for consumers for whom English is not the first language.
Housing Rights, Inc. is a San Francisco/Bay Area non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring equal access to housing for everyone. They've dedicated a portion of their website to housing rights of tenants with disabilities. Other sections of the site focus on general self-advocacy for tenants, dealing with discrimination, and affordable housing. 
The Arizona Center for Disability Law has developed a comprehensive self-advocacy guide regarding Fair Housing rights for people with disabilities. The guide is available for download as an accessible PDF. While there is some Arizona-specific information, this guide is a great resource for any consumer who wants a no-nonsense explanation of the Fair Housing Act, which is a Federal law. 





Settlement Reached RE: Pay Day Advance Loans
San Francisco City Attorney Dennis J. Herrera and Money Mart (also known as Loan Mart) have reached a settlement requiring Money Mart to repay California consumers who took out "pay day advance" loans.

On behalf of California consumers, City Attorney Dennis J. Herrera sued Money Mart (owned by Dollar Financial Inc.) alleging that certain loans offered at Money Marts in 2005 were illegal and that installment loans offered in Money Mart stores from 2005 to 2007 were illegal.  The City Attorney and Money Mart have reached a settlement requiring Money Mart to repay Californians who took out the loans at issue. 
For more information about this settlement, and to find out if you're eligible to make a claim, check out the official press release, which includes instructions on how to make a claim.





The Aging and Disability Resource Connection Consumer Advisory Group (ADRC)


The purpose of the ADRC is to increase the ability of consumers to use the system of long term supports and services as seamlessly as possible. It is, above all, a partnership among consumers of all ages, service providers, and advocates.  On Wednesday, September 12th, ILRCSF will host a staff and community meeting, in which the Bay Area Community Exchange will offer a briefing on some of the ways that the disability community can get some of their needs met through timebanks, an alternative method of exchange that does not require money for participation. Come engage in this exciting event which will enlarge the pool of options for all who attend. We hope to see you there!

Independent Living Resource Center San Francisco (ILRCSF)
649 Mission St, 3rd floor
San Francisco, CA 94105


ILRCSF is wheelchair accessible and provides reasonable accommodations on request, including ASL interpreters and print information in alternative formats. Please contact Michelle Puckett at  to request accommodations. ILRCSF is a scent-free office in order to be fully accessible to all people with disabilities. Please do not wear any scented products including perfumes, aftershave, hairspray, etc. to any meetings, groups, or workshops held at or by ILRCSF.


All You Ever Wanted To Know About Registering To Vote..But Were Afraid to Ask

This is a big election year, and there's still time to register to vote. The California Secretary of State's office has developed a one-stop, online shop where all of your voter registration questions can be answered. There's a direct link to register online ( registration California closes on October 22!), information for casting an absentee ballot, even a link to check the status of a voter registration you've already submitted. 


As always, ILRCSF urges everyone who is eligible t o register and GET OUT THE VOTE!

Presidential Candidates in Online Forum Focusing on Disability

September 28 from 9:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m. PST 

Registration now open!

Along with other aging and disability organizations, The National Council on Aging (NCOA) is co-sponsoring an historic nonpartisan event featuring the 2012 presidential candidates and candidates for the U.S. Senate seat from Ohio providing their positions on a wide variety of disability issues, including those affecting older adults. 


The forum will be the only national event to focus specifically on disability issues. Questions are expected to focus on "big picture" issues facing the broad disability community, such as employment, health care, long-term services and supports, education, transportation, housing, and research.



How to Participate
  • Online: The event will be streamed live on the web, and watch parties are being organized around the country. A recording will be made available afterward. Register online to stream this live - and SAVE THIS DATE!
  • OR...come to ILRCSF and watch LIVE with folks from your own community! You are welcome to bring snacks. Coffee will be provided.


Making Your Home Accessible

Many consumers have become aware that ILRCSF has a Device Lending Library (DLL). We routinely work with consumers who come in looking to borrow laptop computers, handheld GPS devices, sound recorders, and other gadgets. Few people realize that ILRCSF also lends out portable ramps, and other items aimed at making house and home more accessible to people with disabilities.  

ILRCSF is part of the Assistive Technology Network. If we don't stock the equipment you're looking for, there's an excellent chance we can locate it at another member IL, and arrange for a distance loan. 
If your home is less than accessible, or you're moving to a place where you know AT will be helpful, contact AT Coordinator Alicia Contreras to discuss your options, and find out what's available on a loaner basis. All DLL loans are free of charge.  
To contact Alicia, call (415) 543-6222


Disability Access Settlement: How To Claim


If you're a person with a mobility disability who has faced barriers to access at Burger King restaurants, you may be eligible to be part of a cash settlement.

A settlement has been reached on a lawsuit claiming that individuals who use wheelchairs and scooters for mobility have been subjected to discrimination at Burger King restaurants that allegedly contain unlawful architectural barriers to access. The lawsuit sought to remove the alleged barriers, and monetary damages for Class Members denied access to Burger King restaurants on or after October 16, 2006. 

Burger King Corporation and the restaurant operators deny they did anything wrong. The parties have reached a settlement of this case. It is up to the Court, after hearing your views, to determine whether to approve the proposed settlement. At this point, the Court has not approved the settlement. More information and details regarding the settlement, including how to determine if you're eligible, check out the accessible, downloadble PDF.





ILRCSF Economic Empowerment Workshops:

Benefits and Work Incentives


ILRCSF has a dedicated staff member who focuses on Economic Empowerment. She provides information, support and advocacy regarding benefits and eligibility, work incentive programs, and emergency rental assistance programs.  


Our Economic Empowerment specialist works one-to-one with many consumers on specific topics and goals. We recommend, though, that consumers interested in Economic Empowerment services start out by attending one of her workshops, which focus on Basic Benefits and How Employment Effects SSDI and SSI Benefits. 


All workshops are on Thursdays at 9:30am. 


Please call our main number for a current schedule:




NOTE: ILRCSF is wheelchair accessible and provides reasonable accommodations upon advanced request. In order to be fully accessible to all people with disabilities, ours is a scent-free office. When visiting ILRCSF, please do not wear any scented products, including perfumes, aftershave, hairspray, etc.


Speak  Up About Healthcare: 
Consumer Input Requested  
The Department of Health Care Services (DCHS) has rolled out its Coordinated Care Initiative (CCI) Transition Draft Plan
that will affect people who receive Medi-Cal and Medicare in eight counties across the state. The counties include Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, San Mateo, San Bernardino, Riverside, Alameda, and Santa Clara.  
There is still time for the public to review the draft transition plan and submit their comments. The draft transition plan and comment template have been posted. All comments are due  by September 7th. For information on how to participate in ongoing staeholder work group meetings, check out this dedicated page.
Please check out this draft plan and make your voice heard!

The Independent Living Resource Center San Francisco is a 501(c)3, not-for-profit organization. Donations from the public support our workshops, one-to-one services, multi-cultural outreach, advocacy and systems change work, the Herb Levine Legacy Fund, and this newsletter. Please consider making a donation to help us keep offering information, support and advocacy to people with disabilities. 
Tax deductible donations may be sent to:
649 Mission Street, 3rd Floor,
San Francisco, CA 94105

or online:
Donate securely online via Network for Good  

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