COVID-19 Update: Access Living Employees Working from Home; Building Closed

Action Alert: Congress to Vote on New Covid Bill

 

May 15, 2020 | by Amber Smock

Action Alert: Congress to Vote on New Covid Bill

May 14, 2020

Dear Access Living friends and allies,

Take Action: Here is a quick and easy link from the Arc of the United States that will help you send an email to your members of Congress. The email text is intended to remind Congress that the issues many people with disabilities care about should not be left behind.

The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the horrific gaps and inequalities that people with disabilities experience across the nation every single day. From rampant infections and deaths in congregate settings, to the dire lack of protective personal equipment (PPE) and testing for millions of people with disabilities and our support workers, to tremendous gaps in communication access across the board, to the horrific state of jobs and benefits for people with disabilities, we are living through a time when access and inclusion could not be more important. And, your advocacy is more needed than ever.

Tomorrow, the U.S. House is expected to vote on a new 1,800 page Covid-19 bill called the Heroes Act. This is the fourth major Covid-19 bill that Congress is working on. If the House passes it, it would go to the U.S. Senate. A one page summary of the bill is at this link. Within this bill are important funds for housing and for home and community based services (HCBS). However, the funds for HCBS are in the form of an increased federal match for state dollars, as opposed to a dedicated pot of federal funds just for HCBS. It is really important to make sure your members of Congress hear from you about support for HCBS, housing, and PPE.

Take Action: Here is a quick and easy link from the Arc of the United States that will help you send an email to your members of Congress. The email text is intended to remind Congress that the issues many people with disabilities care about should not be left behind.

Fighting for Housing in Chicago: We’d like to update you that Access Living has been busy working with community colleagues through the Chicago Housing Initiative (CHI) to increase access to housing during Covid-19. Check out this letter that CHI sent to Mayor Lori Lightfoot addressing using vacant public housing to house people, as well as putting a freeze on rent collection, mortgage payments, and cancellation of housing debts. Access Living’s community organizing group the Disability Rights Action Coalition for Housing (DRACH) is a longtime member of CHI. Here at this link is a petition that people can sign to help the campaign.

Bending in Two Directions: Truly, the Covid-19 pandemic should cause all of us to ask serious questions about why congregate settings have been so disproportionately impacted by Covid-19, and whether or not those settings are truly sustainable. We cannot lose sight of the reality that the current trend towards public health restrictions can come at the expense of people with disabilities. As states and cities look at re-opening, you SHOULD ask, “Re-open for who? What does real re-opening look like for people with disabilities?” Because without good advocates asking important questions, we run ever greater risk that the current pandemic will cost us more disabled lives.