Cuts to Independent Living Programs

Today, March 3, Access Living’s Director of Advocacy is in Springfield speaking with legislators and with state officials about the need to preserve services that support people with disabilities in their own homes. If the state cuts these services, everyone loses because people are forced out of their communities and the state pays more money for costly institutions.

While people are advocating in Springfield, everyone around the state can help the effort by taking action according to the direction below.

Below is the message:

Dear Access Living friends and allies,

Advocates around the state are continuing to work very hard on state-level budget issues, in preparation for the state legislative hearings which will begin within a couple of weeks. I wanted to share some important information for disability advocates concerned about independent living. Be sure to scroll to the end for the action alert!

Last week, the Illinois Department of Human Services shared further detail about the Governor’s proposed plan for the current Fiscal Year 15 shortfall and the upcoming Fiscal Year 16 budget. There are many cuts proposed to many programs for people with disabilities, but in this email I wanted to highlight the following programs that are specific to Centers for Independent Living (CILs). Remember, Illinois has 22 CILs, and Access Living is one. The programs at risk of elimination or reduction that I want to highlight are:

• The Illinois Network of Centers for Independent Living has a new grant for training people with disabilities how to be good employers of personal attendants. In FY 16 this would be cut.

• Access Living and Progress Center both run the Emergency Back-up Personal Attendant Program serving Cook County, for emergencies when your personal attendant does not come to work. In FY 16 this would be cut.

• Progress Center runs a Latino outreach program serving suburban Cook County. In FY 16 this would be cut.

• The Home Services Program (HSP) that many of our consumers rely on would be cut by $110 million, by making it harder to qualify for the program. The current DON score threshold is 29; the state proposes to raise it to 37. People currently in this range would be cut from HSP in FY 16.

• The Community Care Program (CCP) for seniors would be cut by about $126 million by also changing the DON score minimum from 29 to 37. Current CCP consumers would be grandfathered in.

There is a different budget item for CILs that is basically about $2 million for general operating funds, which is shared among the CILs according to a set formula. The FY 16 budget preserves this money, but the problem is the CILs need ALL their programs protected. CILs will find themselves less able to effectively help people with disabilities live in the community. Plus, many other programs, such as mental health programs or HIV/AIDS programs or developmental disabilities programs, are also being cut.

Remember, INDEPENDENT LIVING is a CIVIL RIGHT! The Olmstead Supreme Court decision in 1999 made it extremely clear that people with disabilities should not be housed in institutions and nursing facilities against their will. Just because the Governor’s budget proposal is scary, we cannot simply roll over. We have to stick up for ourselves! Will you help?

You can help fight for Centers for Independent Living by taking action at this link .