February 2018 Creating Home News (Archive)

Creating Home News
wordart
Collin, Denton, Dallas, Ellis, Kaufman, Rockwall and Tarrant Counties

COMMUNITY FOR PERMANENT SUPPORTED HOUSING
February 2018

2/24/17 - Project Independent Workshop - Seats Available
Hurst-Euless-Bedford Location

UHC In partnership with UnitedHealthcare, CPSH is pleased to announce the the February 24, 2018 Project Independence Workshop.


The Project Independence Workshop takes families through the 5 steps of how to create independent living in the community with friends. The instructor and parents who have successfully used this approach will share information. Participants will plan how to transition their children to more independence. Families of any age children are welcome to attend.

Saturday, February 24, 2018 from 10:00am – 3:00pm
6 Stones
209 N Industrial Blvd #241
Bedford, TX 76021
Community Room

There is a $10/person registration fee. The fee will be returned at completion of workshop. Space is limited.

Watch the video testimony from a parent participant, details about the workshop, and RSVP here.

Update: Information and list of North Texas Regional Fair Housing Assessment Meetings here.

Creating Home News and Calendar here. <=== Check out more news!

CPSH Housing survey here.
Give $10
Your Donation Matters!
Help CPSH with 2018 Projects.

CPSH can only succeed with your help. If you appreciate the importance of what we are doing in the DFW area, please consider donating to CPSH and ask your employer to match the donation.

Learn more about donating at Give2CPSH.

Thank you!

Subscribe
Facebook Twitter
About This Newsletter
The Community for Permanent Supported Housing e-newsletter has stories, calendar of events, and other features about creative housing options for adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities or social challenges, as well as independent living in North Texas.
About CPSH
CPSH is a charity and works with families and community partners to create more housing options in the Collin, Denton, Dallas, Ellis, Kaufman, Rockwall and Tarrant Counties for almost 100,000 adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities or social challenges regardless of IQ who need safe, affordable housing with support. CPSH has created an independent living guide for parents everywhere in Texas.


8 Ways to Support CPSH, here.
Watch the CPSH Animated Mission Video, here.
Change your subscription or contact CPSH
© by 2018 Community for Permanent Supported Housing. All rights Reserved.
Comment




Small Area Fair Market Rent

The fair market rent (FMR) is used as a guideline by public housing authorities (PHA) and other administrators when determining the maximum voucher payment (known as the payment standard) in the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program.

Beginning with FY2018 HUD will begin requiring designated areas to use Small Area Fair Market Rent..  With the SAFMRs, HUD is attempting to help create actual incentives for tenants to move out of lower opportunity areas. Unlike the 50th percentile FMRs, the SAFMRs will be based on the actual rent of each zip code.

More information can be found here.

In the DFW area the value of the vouchers, established by SAFMR is below competitive rental rates in many areas.  This gap is one reason why some property owners won't accept vouchers. CPSH is working with leaders in the community encourage support of rent studies of local zip codes to show HUD our area needs significant increases in SAFMR.  For more information about this project, go here.

 

 

"The use of Small Area FMRs is expected to give [Housing Credit Voucher] tenants access to areas of high opportunity and lower poverty areas by providing a subsidy that is adequate to cover rents in those areas, thereby reducing the number of voucher families that reside in areas of high poverty concentration," said HUD in November 2017.

North Texas Regional Fair Housing Assessment Meetings

North Texas Cities and Housing Authorities have planned follow up public input meetings for the North Texas Regional Assessment of Fair Housing (AFH). The purpose of the AFH is to assess whether individuals and families have the information, opportunity and options to live where they choose without unlawful discrimination related to race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin or disability.

The AFH also assesses whether housing options are realistically available to people of varying backgrounds in integrated areas with access to opportunity. Input from advocates and the public was gathered during the first round of meetings and focus groups. They have used that input, along with local data, to formulate goals and strategies to address the fair housing issues that were found. These goals and strategies will be presented at this meeting, and all members of the public, advocates and members of protected classes are encouraged to attend and give their feedback.

COMMUNITY FOR PERMANENT SUPPORTED HOUSING encourages you to attend one of these meetings to ensure your voice is heard.

The meeting times and locations are posted here: http://northtexasrha.com/public-meetings/

There is also a short online survey. Here is the link, http://northtexasrha.com/survey/.

Background

In 2017, COMMUNITY FOR PERMANENT SUPPORTED HOUSING joined the North Texas Regional Housing Assessment Team to conduct two Focus Groups to find out what types of housing individuals with disabilities want. Their parents also participated in these discussions. Here is a 3 minute video that explains the effort.



Click on the image above to watch the video.


This year, COMMUNITY FOR PERMANENT SUPPORTED HOUSING will continue to address affordable housing for citizens with disabilities in community-based, safe, neighborhoods. Services to live independently and community amenities are also necessary so that these citizens are able to work and socialize in the communities they are familiar with.

CPSH welcomes your collaboration on moving this mission forward. Please contact me if you'd like to discuss working together or have questions about our work.

Comment




NTHRA Focus Group Video Housing for Disabilities


In 2017, COMMUNITY FOR PERMANENT SUPPORTED HOUSING joined the North Texas Regional Housing Assessment Team to conduct two Focus Groups to find out what types of housing individuals with disabilities want. Their parents also participated in these discussions. Here is a 3 minute video that explains the effort.



Click on the image above to watch the video.


In the new year, COMMUNITY FOR PERMANENT SUPPORTED HOUSING will continue to address affordable housing for citizens with disabilities in community-based, safe, neighborhoods. Services to live independently and community amenities are also necessary so that these citizens are able to work and socialize in the communities they are familiar with.

Some of our project are listed here:
  • Using legal process to encourage the Dallas Housing Authority to issue project-based vouchers for people with disabilities in Collin, Denton, Dallas, Ellis, Kaufman, Rockwall and Tarrant Counties.
  • Using legal process to encourage The Department of Housing and Urban Development to correct the nationwide misunderstanding of individual use of vouchers in voucher homes owned by family members.
  • Working with System Adequacy Subcommittee of the State IDD System Redesign Committee to address specific gaps in services for people who want to live more independently.
  • Working with Susan Murphree, Sr. Policy Specialist at Disability Rights Texas (Austin) to encourage DADS to make access to Protective Supervision easier.
  • Providing more Home Safety and Project Independence Training session to families.
CPSH welcomes your collaboration on moving this mission forward. Please contact me if you'd like to discuss working together or have questions about our work.

Happy Holidays and may your 2018 be your best year ever!

Best regards,
Robin LeoGrande, President
COMMUNITY FOR PERMANENT SUPPORTED HOUSING


CPSH update on discussions with DHA and HUD FW

COMMUNITY FOR PERMANENT SUPPORTED HOUSING has extended a proposal to Dallas Housing Authority (DHA) and the Fort Worth office of Housing and Urban Development to resolve issues including permitting residents with disabilities to use reasonable accommodation to live in properties owned by close family members holding a project-based vouchers.





Family Participates in Lyft Pilot (Dallas)

Jane Drake, CPSH Director, and her family have participated on the Lyft Pilot program.  Jane says, "About two months ago our lives changed forever - in a unique and positive way. Our son, age 27, depended on us for his transportation. Fortunately my husband and I both work from home. Still, we couldn't jump up and leave our desks every time our son wanted to go to the book store or library. And this arrangement did not foster independence. In addition, living in Richardson made taking public transportation difficult. Our son would need to walk a mile to a bus stop, then take the bus and head to either another bus or a rail line. Although DART Paratransit would provide a private min-van to take him where he needed to go, he was uncomfortable hopping on a van clearly marked for those in wheelchairs.

"Through a friend of mine who serves on the board of Community for Permanent Supported Housing (CPSH), we found out about the Lyft pilot program offered through DART Paratransit. We took Taylor down to the DART headquarters and they did an assessment, clearing him for entry into the DART-Lyft pilot program. It works like the regular Lyft program with the following exceptions:

  • It is free. No tipping. 
  • You call a dedicated number at least 2 hrs. prior to needing the ride.

"Our son likes it and uses it with excellent results. He reports that the drivers are polite and on-time. This is a huge blessing for our family. Thanks to DART Paratransit."

More information on the Lyft Pilot, here.





Special Needs Trust Homes

CPSH has received calls about managing homes in special needs trusts.  There is a new resource page on this site for you to read about the topic.  If you've made decisions about housing for a SNT would you please share your experience?  The page is here.





Report: Housing A ‘Crisis’ For People With Disabilities

by Shaun Heasley | December 15, 2017

Housing prices across the country are far outpacing the monthly benefits provided by Supplemental Security Income, according to a new report, forcing many people with disabilities into homelessness or costly institutional care.

The national average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in 2016 exceeded the entire typical SSI check of $763 per month, while a studio or efficiency unit accounted for 99 percent of that payment.

What’s more, in the 13 states and Washington, D.C. where housing prices are highest, individuals with disabilities could not even cover the average cost of the smallest apartments with their SSI benefits.

The findings come from a report out this week from the Technical Assistance Collaborative and the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities’ Housing Task Force. It’s based on U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development data on rental costs for 2016 and information from the Social Security Administration on SSI benefits.

“Housing is a challenge for most of us; it’s a crisis for individuals on SSI,” said Kevin Martone, executive director of the Technical Assistance Collaborative. “Nowhere in the United States can people with disabilities receiving SSI afford a safe, decent place to live.”

About 4.8 million adults with disabilities received SSI in 2016. With these benefits falling short of housing prices, an estimated 87,000 people with significant disabilities were homeless and between 200,000 and 300,000 people with disabilities were living in institutions, nursing facilities and other segregated environments, the report found.

Meanwhile, over 870,000 people with developmental disabilities were estimated to be residing with caregivers age 60 or older.

“Taxpayer resources are spent exponentially on the costs associated with institutionalization and homelessness even though proven, cost-effective solutions exist,” Martone said. “We need our policymakers to finally confront this issue and work in a bipartisan fashion to address this form of discrimination against those who are the most vulnerable.”





Affordable Housing/Parent Voice


What is affordable housing?

In a 1991 update to the Housing and Urban Development Act, HUD established that 30% percent of family incomeis affordable rent. The monthly payment amount for the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) in Texas for an individual is 2018 will be $750. Thirty percent for rent will be $225 per month. Since HUD has established this definition of affordable, CPSH and our volunteers are advocating to ensure local and federal governments offer affordable housing to people on SSI (low, very low and no income).

Affordability also means that very little or no funding should be required of families for individuals to access community-based, safe, affordable housing with the services they need. CPSH continues to make affordably where individuals want to live a priority. Where possible CPSH encourages families to invest in the housing their children with disabilities live in as adults.

Parent Voice

Parent Voices In 2017, COMMUNITY FOR PERMANENT SUPPORTED HOUSING joined the North Texas Housing Assessment Team to conduct Focus Groups to find out what types of housing individuals with disabilies want. Their parents also participated in these discussions. Here is Vandi Alba discussing why the CPSH Neighborhood Homes effort is important to her and her daughter.







December 2017 Creating Home News (Archive)

Creating Home News
wordart
Collin, Denton, Dallas, Ellis, Kaufman, Rockwall and Tarrant Counties

COMMUNITY FOR PERMANENT SUPPORTED HOUSING
December 2017

What is affordable housing?

In a 1991 update to the Housing and Urban Development Act, HUD established that 30% percent of family incomeis affordable rent. The monthly payment amount for the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) in Texas for an individual is 2018 will be $750. Thirty percent for rent will be $225 per month. Since HUD has established this definition of affordable, CPSH and our volunteers are advocating to ensure local and federal governments offer affordable housing to people on SSI (low, very low and no income).

Affordability also means that very little or no funding should be required of families for individuals to access community-based, safe, affordable housing with the services they need. CPSH continues to make affordably where individuals want to live a priority. Where possible CPSH encourages families to invest in the housing their children with disabilities live in as adults.

Parent Voice

Parent Voices In 2017, COMMUNITY FOR PERMANENT SUPPORTED HOUSING joined the North Texas Housing Assessment Team to conduct Focus Groups to find out what types of housing individuals with disabilies want. Their parents also participated in these discussions. Here is Vandi Alba discussing why the CPSH Neighborhood Homes effort is important to her and her daughter.




Project Independent Workshop 1/27/18

UHC In partnership with UnitedHealthcare, CPSH is pleased to announce the the January 27, 2018 Project Independence Workshop.


The Project Independence Workshop takes families through the 5 steps of how to create independent living in the community with friends. The instructor and parents who have successfully used this approach will share information. Participants will plan how to transition their children to more independence. Families of any age children are welcome to attend.

This is is a 5 hour workshop. Lunch and refreshments are provided.
  • Step 1, Overview: What is supported housing? What is project independence?
  • Step 2, Finding a place to live: How to approach property owners?
  • Step 3, Services and paperwork: How to identify utilities, care, transportation, etc?
  • Step 4, Financial: What is your affordable budget?
  • Step 5, Moving in: How to be a good tenant?
You will leave with a workbook of information to plan your approach. There will be follow up opportunities for discussion.

This is an opportunity to bring families of your child's classmates and friends into a discussion the group living in close proximity with supports. Invite them to RSVP.

It's also a good way to meet other families interested in independent living with supports.

Saturday, January 27, 2018 from 10:00am – 3:00pm
Richardson Civic Center (West entrance)
411 W Arapaho Rd (SW Corner Arapaho and I75)
Richardson, TX 75080


There is a $10/person registration fee. The fee will be returned at completion of workshop.

Space is limited. Please RSVP by January 12, 2018, here.


What is Protective Supervision?

Protective Supervision is a service approved under the Home and Community Services Waiver (HCS) as part of Supported Home Living (SHL).

Community First Choice(CFC) does NOT in the service called Protective Supervision. However, Community First Choice (CFC) does allow for limited supervision for reminding and monitoring related to activities of daily living, such as bathing or eating, that are not solely for the purpose of protective supervision. The CFC supervision option is not widely understood or used in Texas.

A quick search on the Star Plus websites shows that Protective Supervision is a service that is offered in the Star Plus Waiver.

Protective Supervision is a supportive service for people who, due to a physical or mental disability need to be observed at times during the day or night to protect them from injuries, hazards or accidents. Historically, an HCS provider was paid to observe and monitor a child or adult with an intellectual or developmental disability when the person needs intermittently or ongoing monitoring or assistance, in order to remain safely in the community and their own home or family home when. It was provided in the HCS waiver until CFC services became available in 2014. Since then, it is very difficult to justify and impossible to bill.

The need for Protective Supervision must be identified through person centered planning and be included in a person’s individual service plan. Supported Home Living and CFC may both be included in a person’s service plan, but billing guidelines inadvertently omitted allowable billing for protective services within Supported Home Living. Families and advocates have waited for more than a year for resolution of this billing issue.

Currently the state of Texas (HHSC/DADS) DOES NOT have
  • a way to bill for Protective Supervision in HCS under Supported Home Living
  • an updated assessment tool that identifies the need for CFC supervision related to activities of daily living or Protective Supervision as billable HCS service.
  • an updated CFC instruction guide that includes reminding and monitoring across all areas of functioning, depending on each individual’s needs or Protective Supervision as billable HCS service.
Susan Murphree, Senior Policy Specialist at Disability Rights Texas, in Austin, is inquiring about the status of these and other actions related to Protective Supervision. CPSH will be assisting Susan to encourage more transparency about Protective Supervision. It is imperative that HHSC/DADs clarify this service so that more consumers may apply for and use it.

You may be able to apply for increase supervision through CFC at this time, only when it is related to an activity of daily living, while awaiting resolution of the HCS Protective Supervision issue. Work with your service coordinator and service planning team, including the provider, to determine whether CFC supervision is needed. To receive appropriate CFC supervision here are some tips.
  • Include language regarding "reminding" and "monitoring" in both the Person Centered Plan and the CFC assessment as appropriate to the individual’s actual need<./li>
  • Include in the plan and assessment over night needs and why. For example: fall risk when getting up to go to the bathroom, risk to flooding if the sink faucet isn't shut, risk of burning skin with water too hot....
  • If need is intermittent (not respite) need to state how often and why.
  • Track the specific "reminding" and "monitoring" of a family member or aide for 3 months, to show the frequency. This will help justify the need for CFC supervision.
Reference: 2015 California Info on Protective Supervision

If your child is receiving HCS Medicaid Waiver Services, contact your Service Coordinator to discuss CFC supervision or Protective Supervision. A person’s person centered plan and individual service plan can be updated as needed, not just annually.

If your child is not receiving HCS Medicaid Waiver Services, contact your Star+Plus Managed Care Organization.


Creating Home News and Calendar here
This holiday season, please give a gift to CPSH.
Your donation improves your loved one's future.
Give $10
Your Donation Matters!
Help CPSH with 2018 Projects.

CPSH can only succeed with your help. If you appreciate the importance of what we are doing in the DFW area, please consider donating to CPSH and ask your employer to match the donation.

Learn more about donating at Give2CPSH.

Subscribe
Facebook Twitter
About This Newsletter
The Community for Permanent Supported Housing e-newsletter has stories, calendar of events, and other features about creative housing options for adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities or social challenges, as well as independent living in North Texas.

About CPSH
CPSH is a charity and works with families and community partners to create more housing options in the Collin, Denton, Dallas, Ellis, Kaufman, Rockwall and Tarrant Counties for almost 100,000 adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities or social challenges regardless of IQ who need safe, affordable housing with support. CPSH has created an independent living guide for parents everywhere in Texas.


8 Ways to Support CPSH, here.
Watch the CPSH Animated Mission Video, here.
Change your subscription or contact CPSH
© by 2017 Community for Permanent Supported Housing. All rights Reserved.

Oct/Nov 2017 Creating Home News (Archive)

Creating Home News
wordart
Collin, Denton, Dallas, Ellis, Kaufman, Rockwall and Tarrant Counties

COMMUNITY FOR PERMANENT SUPPORTED HOUSING
October/November 2017

CPSH Update

On Thursday, October 26, 2017, CPSH had the opportunity to update the Texas IDD System Redesign Committee on the status of housing for people with IDD and coordinating support services in North Texas. The testimony included the current status of the demands CPSH has made to the Dallas Housing Authority and Housing and Urban Development regarding discrimination against people with IDD who want to live in homes that have project-based vouchers and are owned by family members. CPSH is represented by Relman, Dane & Colfax PLLC in Washington, D.C. Among the firm's specialties are housing and civil rights.

CPSH has also asked the Committee for assistance in improving support services for people living independently. The video testimony including Q&A from the Committee is here.

Here are the key points offered in the testimony.

CPSH Demands of DHA

  1. Make awards from the current pool of applicants
  2. Establish a clear reasonable accommodation procedure
  3. Accept requests for reasonable accommodations from potential residents of any project-based housing funded through DHA
  4. Adopt a policy that clarifies that participation in an LLC or Special Needs Trust is not considered to be family ownership
  5. Continue offering RFPs on a rolling basis
  6. Pay appropriate damages and attorneys’ fees

CPSH Demands of HUD

  1. Withdraw its objections to the DHA’s RFP in writing
  2. Withdraw its instructions to DHA to request a regulatory waiver to proceed with the RFP
  3. Adopt clear instructions at the national level to correct its apparent misunderstanding of the requirements of the PB voucher rule and permit applications from persons who may appear to be a potential owner with a relationship to a person with a disability for project based voucher funds
  4. Provide training to all employees of the Office of Public and Indian Housing nationally to correct HUD’s improper actions here
  5. Pay appropriate damages and attorneys’ fees
We are hopeful that HUD will decide to make this right on a voluntary basis.

CPSH asks the IDD System Redesign Committee for the following:

  • Set expectation that Medicaid Waiver in home services go with a person living in a community-based home; not just ICF or "Group Home."
  • Increase training on Consumer Directed Services; include success stories of affording rent and services.
  • Ensure sufficient transportation funding is part of DADs budget. LIDDA participation in regional transportation planning.
  • Create state-wide resume bank for consumer access caregivers (including internships).
  • Bring mixed-income, mixed use developments or renovations with 15% Project-Based Vouchers to DFW.
  • Ensure parents sign students up on Medicaid Interest list at first ARD.
  • Ongoing independent living skill and behavior assessment each year as part of IEP. Home training/services if necessary.
  • Ensure independent living is part of student transition planning by age 14.
  • Identify homeless with IDD.
  • Train local first responders to communicate appropriately with people with IDD. Assess before arrest.
It was decided at the Committee meeting that CPSH will work with the System Adequacy Subcommittee to address these topics.

QUESTION OF THE MONTH
How have you used Community First Choice (CFC)?


Would you please send us your feedback, here?

Answers to past month's question about Camps are here.


Have you responded to the New CPSH Survey?
Your response helps CPSH plan for the next 5 years. The survey is here.

Creating Home News and Calendar here


48 pages, Full color, Bound, English, Spanish.
Find out about the guide, here.

Read feedback and order the guide, here. Please share your feedback.

Just $6 per copy!

School Districts, Businesses and Organizations, contact
CPSH about volume printing, here.

Your Donation Matters!
Help CPSH with 2017 Projects.

CPSH can only succeed with your help. If you appreciate the importance of what we are doing in the DFW area, please consider donating to CPSH and ask your employer to match the donation.

Learn more about donating at Give2CPSH.

Subcribe
Facebook Twitter
About This Newsletter
The Community for Permanent Supported Housing e-newsletter has stories, calendar of events, and other features about creative housing options for adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities or social challenges, as well as independent living in North Texas.

About CPSH
CPSH is a charity and works with families and community partners to create more housing options in the Collin, Denton, Dallas, Ellis, Kaufman, Rockwall and Tarrant Counties for almost 100,000 adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities or social challenges regardless of IQ who need safe, affordable housing with support. CPSH has created an independent living guide for parents everywhere in Texas.


8 Ways to Support CPSH, here.
Watch the CPSH Animated Mission Video, here.
Change your subscription or contact CPSH
© by 2017 Community for Permanent Supported Housing. All rights Reserved.




September, 2017 Creating Home News (Archive)

Title of the document
Creating Home News
wordart
Collin, Denton, Dallas, Ellis, Kaufman, Rockwall and Tarrant Counties

COMMUNITY FOR PERMANENT SUPPORTED HOUSING
September 2017

Seeking Male Adults to Share Plano Home

A neighborhood home in Plano, Tx has been established for male adults with autism or male adults (with disabilities) who feel comfortable living with people with autism. The current resident has behaviors where he makes noise.
  • Care plan for each person
  • Activities to be busy every day
  • Home case manager works with service providers/care givers of tenants (if funded)
  • Transition speed from current home to this home based on individual.
  • Individual bedrooms
  • Camera in main area for parents to check in occasionally
  • On a bus line
  • Rent: $750/month includes Home case management, rent and utilities
  • Contact: Judy, home case manager 760-419-5224

QUESTION OF THE MONTH
How was camp for your child with IDD or autism?


Would you please send us your feedback, here?

Answers to past month's question about Tiny Homes are here.


Have you responded to the New CPSH Survey?
Your response helps CPSH plan for the next 5 years. The survey is here.

Creating Home News and Calendar here


48 pages, Full color, Bound, English, Spanish.
Find out about the guide, here.

Read feedback and order the guide, here. Please share your feedback.

Just $6 per copy!

School Districts, Businesses and Organizations, contact
CPSH about volume printing, here.

Please donate to CPSH on Thursday, 9.14.17 - North Texas Giving Day
CPSH programs are designed to make a difference in your life. As we feel the impact of decreases to social services funding and the rapid population growth in our area, we must stay the course — advocating that the ones we love and care about have permanent homes to call their own when the time is right.

Donations Multiplied
Donations of $25 or more will be multiplied so your donation will go even farther!

Donations Doubled
National Mortgage Insurance is matching up to $3,000 to new donors who donate $25 or more to CPSH.
Anonymous Donors are matching up to $2,000 to returning donors who donate $100 or more to CPSH.

ntgd
Click on the image for more information and video.


Subscribe
Facebook Twitter

About CPSH
CPSH is a charity and works with families and community partners to create more housing options in the Collin, Denton, Dallas, Ellis, Kaufman, Rockwall and Tarrant Counties for almost 100,000 adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities or social challenges regardless of IQ who need safe, affordable housing with support. CPSH has created an independent living guide for parents everywhere in Texas.


cpsh

8 Ways to Support CPSH, here.
Watch the CPSH Animated Mission Video, here.
Change your subscription or contact CPSH
© by 2017 Community for Permanent Supported Housing.
All rights Reserved.
vision




The U.S. justice system has an autism problem... Dallas Morning News

To prevent people with autism and other disabilities from incarceration, CPSH is working on safe, affordable, housing with supports, programs to help families transition their children to independent living and first responder education. Join CPSH.  Support CPSH.





Churches have a history of excluding and erasing people with disabilities

By Shannon Dingle, Washington Post

August 5, 2017

"So, parents of kids with disabilities in the church, what do you wish good church people knew?" Preston Yancey tweeted in April.

With the responses, the hashtag #disabilityinchurch was born. As the conversation evolved, people with disabilities chimed in, recentering the discussion on their own experiences. Many people noticed, retweeted and shared how moved they were by the contributions.

I wasn't surprised that the conversation was driven by parents of children with disabilities, not people with disabilities themselves. I wasn't surprised that story after story revealed how little church leaders think about disability in their planning. I wasn't surprised to see the depths of pain displayed in 140 characters over and over again.

As justice conversations are gaining steam, we talk a lot about race. Immigration is discussed often, too, especially the question of refugees. Religious liberty for Muslims comes up, as we know threats to freedom for one faith can affect all faiths. Misogyny is a topic we'll tackle, and LGBT discrimination might be discussed.

But disability? We don't usually consider that a justice issue. We the disabled are marginalized even by those who consider themselves champions for those on the margins. I live with physical disabilities as the result of childhood abuse and a chronic degenerative joint disease. I have a son with autism, a daughter with ADHD and a daughter with cerebral palsy. I look for handicap accessibility since I walk with a limp and one child uses a motorized wheelchair.

Our history of exclusion and erasure of people with disabilities in the church goes back to Biblical times. In Old Testament law, priests with any disfigurement were forbidden from presenting offerings in the temple. In John 9, we hear the disciples express the early church thinking that disability must be the result of personal or ancestral sin.

On the other hand, St. Thomas Aquinas's writings offer recommendations for the inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in the church, from baptism and communion to presence in general. However, U.S. churches haven't prioritized inclusion efforts until recently. Historically, U.S.-based Catholic and Protestant groups have built hospitals for those deemed crippled but haven't made space for us in their places of worship.

Martin Luther, who showed compassion for people with disabilities, once suggested that a specific child with significant disabilities be drowned because he wasn't fit to live - then a common theological response, according to Brett Webb-Mitchell's "Unexpected Guests at God's Banquet."

Similarly, the church has offered mixed messages about the worth and personhood of those living with disabling diagnoses. We have demonized the disabled by blaming them for their conditions, deified the disabled by treating life with suffering as akin to Christ's life, devalued our shared humanity in declaring the disabled to be in need of charity but not community and of dependence but not dignity, and denied the disabled by refusing to provide access to religious life.

Our family saw this play out in a small way on our last Sunday at a prominent Southern Baptist church in Raleigh, N.C., we left a year ago. That night, the preschool class sang as part of the opening worship time. For our youngest child to participate with her classmates, my husband and a friend had to lift her in her wheelchair onto the worship stage because no ramp existed to allow entry otherwise.

Why aren't ramps required there, like they are in other public venues? Because Christian schools and churches successfully fought to be excluded from the requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act, which was passed 27 years ago.

This history is why I wasn't surprised by the stories of #disabilityinchurch, why I wasn't surprised when then-candidate Donald Trump's mocking of a disabled reporter didn't end his campaign and why I haven't been surprised recently as legislative health-care efforts moved forward even as disabled people spoke of the detrimental effects on their lives.

The advocacy organization ADAPT, which fights for people who are disabled, led the charge toward passing the disabilities act, positioned in opposition to the church in its stand for people with disabilities, so it doesn't surprise me that the church is largely silent again as ADAPT has been the most vocal opponent of the replacement and repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

The disabilities act set the stage for our exclusion, for people with disabilities less likely to attend services, Bible studies or other church activities. One-third of those parents say they've left at least one church because their child wasn't welcomed, according to a 2013 article by Elizabeth O'Hanlon in the Journal of Religion, Disability & Health.

The churches with the largest and best-established inclusive ministries for children - like McLean Bible Church in Virginia and Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas - are led by pastors who have children or grandchildren with significant disabilities. They didn't know the need; they knew the person. They didn't care about special needs; they cared about a person with special needs.

Many people with disabilities were begging fellow Americans to join with them in understanding and advocating for health care. I've been among those sharing my heart and my story, performing my pain in hopes that I finally will be seen clearly enough for others to care about my well-being. But unless you love me or someone like me who lives with disability, then these stories will be only stories.

Our justice was never meant to be an afterthought. In her book "Roadmap to Reconciliation," Brenda Salter McNeil writes, "Reconciliation is an ongoing spiritual process involving forgiveness, repentance and justice that restores broken relationships and systems to reflect God's original intention for all creation to flourish."

Her context of writing was race, as is often the case in our discussions about reconciliation in the church. As the mother of one Asian and three black children, I'm thankful these conversations are taking place. But when it comes to this sort of reconciliation for people with disabilities, many Christians aren't ready to seek forgiveness, repentance and justice.

Most Christians I know are more knowledgeable about health-care legislation's effects on middle-class families' premiums than on disabled people's ability to live at all.

The impact of governmental actions on those with disabilities shouldn't be heard via stories online but rather stories shared as we pray and break bread together in community. Disability in church should be a commonplace reality, not a surprising hashtag.

 





Championing the unfortunate

We can’t fix all the world’s ills, but we still must try

Houston Chronicle Sunday

28 May 2017

By Rabbi David Lyon

Tazria-Metzora is one of the least favorite portions in the whole Torah, because it’s about bodily emissions, leprosy and other taboo subjects. But, it gets a bum rap.

If we read it as the rabbis did, and we should, the portion urges us to find the sacred and Godly in what is unfamiliar and unseemly. In this portion in Leviticus, scaly skin afflictions, bodily emissions and “tzara’at” — commonly translated to mean leprosy — were examined by the priest.

If the priest deemed a man or woman was “unclean,” then the person would call out, “Unclean, unclean!” and be exempt from the community for a prescribed amount of time. Only until the priest found that the person was “clean” could re-entry be allowed, and with proper gifts and offerings.

The goal wasn’t condemnation or exile; the goal was maintenance of a sacred community that aimed for God’s blessing through ritual and ethical deeds.

Today, it goes without saying that we understand vastly more about such ancient taboos. But, can it also be said that we’ve done as much as our ancient ancestors not to condemn or exile those who, temporarily or permanently, cannot meet the highest standards of human participation? In Texas, our lawmakers are considering cutting the funding of State Supported Living Centers (SSLCs), which service and provide homes to severely mentally disabled children and adults. If the funding is cut, residents will be forced to move to other locations, sometimes farther from parents and relatives who visit regularly. In other cases, there is no family to visit: their parents are unable or unwilling to visit, or they’re deceased. Reducing care means reducing compassion for children and adults who need it most.

About 25 years ago, a young couple I knew who already had a bright baby boy, welcomed a little girl into their lives. But, after some time they recognized that her verbal and motor skills weren’t developing, and her obvious temperamental behavior was growing more severe. Doctors couldn’t diagnose it properly and spiritual support was failing, too. The rabbi of their synagogue — not in Texas — empathized, but offered no real support.

Failing them, the mother, who had chosen Judaism lovingly, nevertheless, sought a church to find what they couldn’t find in the synagogue. The church was better equipped to respond. The mother decided to reclaim her Christian faith, and her husband, not wanting to be left behind, joined her. The child now resides in a state sponsored residential home and always will. Her parents visit regularly and provide unconditional love.

The outcome was good for the family and their daughter, but it left a hole in the Jewish community that desperately needed to be filled with better support, resources and hope. Jay Ruderman, of the Ruderman Family Foundation, teaches, “If you lose the child, you lose the family.”

Similarly, but with a more favorable outcome, a daughter of members of my congregation in Houston, sought the support of their senior rabbi at the time, and found what they needed from the synagogue. Rabbi Karff, Rabbi Emeritus of Congregation Beth Israel, responded generously to their needs with resources, support and hope. Their daughter lives in a residential home in Texas, and receives regular visits from her family and unconditional love, too.

When their daughter was of bat mitzvah age, when a 13 year-old Jewish child is called to read and teach from Torah, she was obviously unable to do it. But, standing near the Holy Ark, Rabbi Karff placed the Torah into their daughter’s arms and guided her in reciting a few sacred words. The rabbi’s blessing confirmed her place in God’s covenant with all God’s children.

The bond between family and synagogue will forever be regarded as a testament to faith and trust. Today, Congregation Beth Israel’s commitment to children and especially those who have specific challenges is one of its many gifts to Jewish families.

If birth is a blessing from God, then we are in no position to judge which births are greater blessings than others. As moral advocates, we must champion the needs of the unfortunate. For the sake of children and adults in State Supported Living Centers, we must oppose consolidating and/or closure of any SSLCs; displacing our most vulnerable and innocent loved ones from their homes and communities.

In Leviticus, the Israelite community, didn’t continue its wilderness journey until every member of the community was able to re-enter. Imagine that the highest and holiest deed was to enable a person to mend and be repaired so that the community could remain intact in God’s presence.

We’re aware that not every citizen can perform their duties as we do; but, every citizen is a human being whose life depends on us. God’s blessing wasn’t meant for the most fit; it was also meant for the most fit to extend it to those who knew they could count on us to do the right thing with it. Our community can’t move on until everybody is counted.

Do give thanks to God for what we know, what we can do and, despite our personal struggles, that we can believe tomorrow will be better; and, then take the time you need to consider those who can’t know or do, or even imagine a better tomorrow for themselves.

It’s not ours to fix all the ills of the world around us, but there’s so much we can do, together, if we advocate for the role that God’s blessings in us were created to serve in others.