FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 1, 2018

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.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 1, 2018
Contact: Lindsay Miller (518) 465-4650, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Disability Rights Community Calls on Congress to Extend Funding to Help People Leave Institutions and Move Back Home!
(Albany, NY): Money Follows the Person (MFP) was enacted in 2005 with strong bipartisan support and is one of the most successful Medicaid demonstrations. MFP was designed to help states transition people with disabilities from institutions into the community, and to increase access to home and community based services. Unfortunately, MFP expired September 30, 2016, and states are running out of funding.

“Money Follows the Person is the rare bipartisan policy solution that actually promotes community integration”, states Bruce Darling, President and CEO of the Center for Disability Rights in Rochester, NY and Board President of the National Council on Independent Living. “MFP has enabled more than 75,000 disabled people, from 47 states to get out of institutions and into their own homes in the community. Reauthorizing MFP is crucial to protecting the lives and liberty of disabled Americans.”

In New York, MFP funds the Open Doors Transition Center and Peer Outreach & Referral programs. Open Doors helps individuals living in nursing homes return to the community and assists individuals with developmental disabilities living in large group homes and institutions transition to smaller community settings or more integrated community programs. The New York Association on Independent Living (NYAIL) administers the Open Doors program via a contract with the Department of Health, partnering with its member Independent Living Centers to staff over 50 Transition Specialists and 100 peer advocates statewide.

“Thanks to the Open Doors program, over 1,800 people with disabilities and older adults have been able to get assistance to leave institutions and move back home,” stated Lindsay Miller, the Executive Director of the New York Association on Independent Living. “Without action on the part of Congress, funding for this important program will dry up, Miller stated.

Congress must work to save and adequately fund MFP. It can do this by including reauthorization of MFP in the negotiations on larger funding issues and by passing the EMPOWER Care Act (S. 2227) immediately.

“We know from federal Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services data that there are approximately 20,000 New Yorkers living in nursing facilities who have expressed an interest in returning to the community,” noted Miller. “Open Doors is the program responsible for reaching out to those individuals, providing them with objective information on the long-term services and supports that are available to them, and helping to facilitate their transition back to their community if that is their choice. We need Congress to save this critical program by passing the EMPOWER Care Act, or by including additional funding for MFP in the budget.”

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.


Published: October 24, 2017

Governor Cuomo Vetoes Bill that Would Help Seniors and People with Disabilities Live In the Community for the Third Year in a Row

Contact: Lindsay Miller (518) 465-4650, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Meghan Parker (518) 465-4650, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
(Albany, NY) - Governor Cuomo vetoed the Visitability Tax Credit bill (A.5950/S.2411) for the third year in a row, which would have helped seniors and people with disabilities to remain in their homes and out of nursing homes. The bill would have provided for a modest tax credit of up to $2,750 for seniors and people with disabilities to modify their homes to make them more accessible. In addition, it would have allowed people to access this credit when including accessible features at the time of construction.

“The lack of accessible housing is the biggest barrier for many people seeking to leave nursing homes. Very often, a ramp to the front door is the difference between a person being able to live safely in their homes or needing to go into a nursing facility” stated Lindsay Miller, Executive Director for the New York Association on Independent Living. “Advocates and sponsors worked in earnest to address concerns raised by the Administration previously, including scaling back the program significantly by capping it at $1 million per year. We are deeply disappointed the Administration decided to veto the bill yet again, rather than work with us to make whatever additional fixes were needed to implement the program and help people to stay in their own homes and maintain their independence,” added Miller.

The disability community has been advocating for this bill because home modifications can be prohibitively expensive, particularly for seniors and people with disabilities who have to rely on a fixed income. This tax credit would allow many New Yorkers to age in place and at the same time, help increase the stock of accessible housing by incentivizing the inclusion of accessible features at the time of construction.

In his veto memo, Cuomo asserts his support for accessible housing by pointing to the Access to Home program, a successful program which provides low income individuals and families home modifications to prevent unwanted institutionalization.

“It is ironic that Governor Cuomo points to Access to Home as proof of his support of accessible housing since it is currently severely underfunded” stated Meghan Parker, Director of Advocacy for the New York Association on Independent Living. “Funding for Access to Home was cut by 75% under this administration and they have failed to restore its funding despite vigorous advocacy from the disability community” added Parker.

“We are urging Governor Cuomo to include funding in the 2018 budget to address the dire need for funding for home modifications” stated Miller. “Governor Cuomo needs to include funding for programs like the Visitability Tax Credit and Access to Home so that people aren’t forced into nursing homes against their will.” added Miller.

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.

NYAIL Press Release- Visitability Tax Credit Bill
Visitability tax credit VETOVisitability tax credit VETO
Visitability Veto