Almost 30 years after the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), it is appalling that Disabled Americans who need long term services and supports continue to be forced into unwanted institutionalization where they are stripped of their personal liberties; and, once they are shut away in institutions, have no means to return home.
The lack of affordable, accessible, integrated housing remains one of the most significant barriers to people with disabilities who want to leave institutions and transition to community living. Congress and HUD have only addressed this issue incrementally, without putting significant efforts into new policies and resources that could have real impact on expanding housing opportunities for people with disabilities. Implementation of ADAPT’s Housing vision, Access across America, would address the housing crisis at all levels, and make accessible, affordable, integrated housing a reality in every community.
The Disability Integration Act (S.117, H.R.555) builds on the years of work ADAPT has done to end the institutional bias and provide seniors and people with disabilities home and community-based services (HCBS) as an alternative to institutionalization. This bipartisan/bicameral legislation strengthens the ADA’s integration mandate and ensures no Disabled American is denied their freedom by requiring they be provided a community-based alternative to institutional placement that allows them to lead an independent life. The legislation – which has broad-based support within the Disability Community – was originally introduced at the end of 2015 in the Senate.
Senator Collins already coponsors the EMPOWER CARE act and Money Follows the Person. ADAPT is the group behind the concept of “Money Follows the Person,” which has been a wildly successful program; as a demonstration project, Money Follows the Person has provided an opportunity to live in the community to over 88,000 people nationwide. The EMPOWER Care Act (S.548, HR.1342) would reauthorize the program for another five (5) years. While five years is a good start, this program should be made permanent.
These civil rights laws and programs, despite bi-partisan support, and nearly 40 years of work, are not the law of the land. As Chair of the Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies, Senator Collins could provide tremendous support for the liberty and freedom of people with disabilities. ADAPT Demands Senator Collins:
- Meet with ADAPT.
- Endorse & Propose Funding for Access across America
- Co-sponsor the Disability Integration Act (S117)
- Make Money Follows the Person a permanent program