Disability and senior advocates rally to preserve independent living services

Larry Williams -- center with the “no cuts” sign -- was one of about 30 people who demonstrated in support of home and community services.
Early in the afternoon on Wednesday, March 28, about 30 disability advocates and senior advocates rallied at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange to protest against the inequalities of the Illinois State Budget. While Illinois plans to give corporations a $371 Million Tax Break, low income seniors and people with disabilities will lose access to essential services. Without the services, people will be unable to live at home and will be forced into institutions.

“Leading an independent and community-based life is not a luxury,” said Rachel Siler, a co-coordinator with Chicago ADAPT and a person with a disability who uses a personal assistant through the Illinois Home Services Program. “It is a necessity and a civil right under the Americans with Disabilities Act. I deserve the right to live in my apartment and not in an institution.”

The FY 2013 proposed Illinois State Budget will devastate community services for seniors and people with disabilities. The proposed budget will:

Block 1,500 people from eligibility to home care;
Allow cuts in service to 14,000 people in the home care program;
Stop services to families with youth under the age of 18; and
Block the Home Service Programs for people with psychiatric or developmental dis¬abilities.

All of these cuts threaten to force people out of their homes and into institutions. “Investing in home services and community supports is a win-win for Illinois,” said Tom Wilson of the Task Force for Attendant Services. “It offers people with disabilities and seniors the choice to live in their own homes and it saves the state loads of money compared to institution services.”

Advocates rallied at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange to send the message that investing in community and home based services is a smart fiscal and policy move for Illinois. They hoped to engage CME in a partnership through which CME would ask Illinois to increase support for home and community-based services. CME representatives refused to speak with the demonstrators in person and over the phone.

Participants in the rally included the Task Force on Attendant Services -- an organizing group of Access Living, Chicago ADAPT, senior advocates, and SEIU. For more information, contact Gary Arnold at 312-640-2199 voice, 773-425-2536 garnold@accessliving.org