Contact: Pauline Barfield, Barfield Public Relations, 212-736-0404,
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Disability Rights Community Releases Budget and Legislative Report Cards In Advance of State Budget and Legislative Session
Albany, NY – Disability rights advocates have released report cards for the 2019-20 State Budget and 2019 Legislative Session. The disability community will be grading the Governor and Legislature on issues of critical importance to the community, including independent living, health, housing, employment, and transportation. Grades will be announced in April after enactment of the Budget, and in June, at the conclusion of the Legislative Session.
“With new leadership in the State Senate, and a voter mandate for change, the disability community is optimistic that our priorities will be fully enacted this year. Not all of our Budget priorities are in the Executive Budget released on Tuesday, but we’re hopeful that after the Budget amendment period and three-way negotiations that they will be,” stated Lindsay Miller, Executive Director of the New York Association on Independent Living (NYAIL). “We’re hoping for straight A’s.”
The report cards lay out the policies which must be enacted, and the programs which must be funded, to ensure community integration for New Yorkers with disabilities. Priorities include increased funding for several programs which are critical to the independence of people with disabilities, and which have been severely underfunded in recent years. This includes increased wages for home care workers to address the home care crisis, and increased funding for home modifications through Access to Home to address the lack of accessible housing throughout the State. Other top priorities include increased funding for the statewide network of Independent Living Centers, as recommended by the Board of Regents. Also on the priority list is funding of the Office for the Advocate for People with Disabilities, which is currently an unfunded Executive Order signed by both Governor Mario and Andrew Cuomo. The Office is needed to provide people with disabilities a voice in state government.
“All of these priorities would help implement New York State’s already articulated priorities – the Olmstead Plan, the Employment First Initiative and the ABLE Initiative,” stated Miller. “We need the resources and laws to turn these policy statements into real programs that will help people with disabilities to realize true independence and community integration.”

Below is information regarding our 2019 budget and legislative priorities:


Contact: Pauline Barfield, Barfield Public Relations, 212-736-0404, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


(Albany, NY) - The disability community has issued a report card to New York State on the final Budget and concludes that the State has failed people with disabilities. This year marks five years since the release of the Governor’s Olmstead Plan, which outlined the State’s efforts to make sure people had the supports and services they need to live at home with their loved ones. But instead of advancing those efforts through the Budget, the State has turned back the clock on community integration by failing to fund vital programs like Independent Living Centers, Access to Home, and by enacting Medicaid changes which make it harder for people to leave institutions and live at home.

“Year after year the disability rights community makes common sense, inexpensive budget recommendations that would help to increase the independence and integration of New Yorkers with disabilities, requests that are minuscule in comparison to the billion-dollar investments being made into institutions and institutional providers through DSRIP.” said Lindsay Miller, Executive Director of the New York Association on Independent Living, “Yet once again we are not only completely ignored, but left with new policies in place that make it harder for people with disabilities to access long term care services and supports in the community.”

The disability community actively advocates for programs and policies that increase the independence of people with disabilities and in doing so, save the State money. “Independent Living advocates were responsible for the creation of the Community First Choice Option (CFCO) at the federal level, and we were the ones to urge New York to implement it. As a result, New York is currently drawing down approximately $365 million annually in additional funds from the Federal Government for services under CFCO, and it isn’t even fully implemented yet,” said Bruce Darling, national organizer with ADAPT. “Instead of investing the millions of savings toward ensuring people have the supports and services they need to live in the community and out of institutions, the State failed people with disabilities in this Budget by leaving home care workers underpaid and making it much harder for people to leave institutions and get back into the community.”

The disability community has been advocating for Governor Andrew Cuomo to reactivate the duties of the Office for the Advocate for People with Disabilities, originally created in 1983 by Governor Mario Cuomo. The State Assembly proposed funding for the Advocate, but this was also not included in the final Budget.

“Any historical disability advocacy was eliminated by removing all advocacy responsibility from the Justice Center last year,” said Lindsay Miller. “The disability community needs a voice in state government and reinstating the duties of the Office for the Advocate for People with Disabilities would have been a good first step.”


Budget Reforms

The disability community also calls on the State Legislature to reform the Budget review process by creating a Disability Budget Subcommittee with a distinct table target. The Legislative Houses have both repeatedly recommended increased funding in their One House Budgets for Independent Living Centers, home modifications, and other disability community priorities, but none of these recommendations have survived the final 3-way Budget negotiations.

“The likelihood of Budget success would be greatly increased if there was a table target set in advance of Budget negotiations for important disability issues”, said Susan Dooha, Executive Director of the Center for Independence of the Disabled, NY. “Our community has a broad range of priorities including advocacy services, healthcare, voting rights, transportation, accessible and affordable housing, and many others, and as a result we’ve been spread too thin across the existing Budget Subcommittee table targets and left behind due to limited resources and competing priorities.”

“Equally important to the disability community is Executive Budget leadership. “If the Governor would propose additional needed funding in his Budget, there’s no question that it would be in the final Budget agreement”, said Lindsay Miller. “Instead, the disability community feels that the Executive treats our issues as legislative member items, and not his responsibility.”


NYS Budget Impact on People with Disabilities
Disability Rights Community 2018 Legislative Report Card


The New York Association on Independent Living (NYAIL) is a statewide membership organization of Independent Living Centers (ILCs), community-based not-for-profit providers of advocacy, services and supports for New Yorkers with disabilities of all ages. ILCs are controlled by, and largely staffed by, people with disabilities. NYAIL strengthens local Independent Living Centers and is a leader in the civil rights movement for all people with disabilities.


The National Center for Law and Economic Justice (NCLEJ) wants to hear from people with disabilities displaced by Sandy who have applied for FEMA housing, particularly if their housing accessibility needs have not been met. Please contact Cary LaCheen at NCLEJ, 212-633-6967, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

People with disabilities displaced by Hurricane Sandy have a right to temporary housing that meets their accessibility needs! Under federal disability rights laws, FEMA, New York State, New York City, and New York counties providing temporary housing to people displaced by Hurricane Sandy must provide people with disabilities with housing that meets their disability-related needs. If needed for a disability, these agencies must provide temporary housing that has the following:

  • Course 1: Orientation to Supported Employment (September 8 -19)
  • Ramp with handrails at the entrance to the building and/or housing unit
  • Raised toilet seat
  • Grab bars around toilet, shower, or tub
  • Accessible (roll-in) shower
  • Bathtub
  • Bathtub with low sides
  • Bath bench or shower chair
  • Hand held shower controls
  • Rooms big enough for wheelchair and wheelchair turn space
  • Sinks, appliances, shelves, counters and controls reachable from wheelchair
  • Visual alarms and notification devices
  • More room for equipment (e.g., hospital bed)
  • All electric trailer (e.g., if the individual uses oxygen)
  • Extra bedroom for personal care worker or other disability-related help
  • Other accessibility features or accommodations

But FEMA's housing application process is not designed to identify these needs. FEMA asks only asks about a few types of disabilities and doesn't ask what type of accommodations are needed. As a result, FEMA may overlook accessibility needs.