Legislative Priorities FY 20 Massachusetts Independent Living Centers
- Align MA AAB regulations with the ADA
- Increase funding for AHVP Vouchers
- Maintain funding for the DME Reuse Program
Below are key programs supported by the ten independent living centers in Massachusetts
An Act Relative to the Architectural Access Board (H.2029 / S.1441)
In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act enshrined the right to equal access in federal law. However, a discrepancy between the ADA and Massachusetts building code creates barriers to access for people with disabilities in housing and employment.
- Massachusetts code does not require any building originally constructed before 1991 to include units adaptable to a wheelchair user’s needs.
- This includes former commercial buildings like mills that are refurbished into housing.
- People with disabilities are more than twice as likely to be homeless as non-disabled people.
- Adaptability allows people to age in place, increases the housing options for people with disabilities and elders, and decreases costly institutionalization in skilled nursing facilities. It costs very little if done up front.
Employment: Massachusetts code does not require employee areas be accessible, even in new or extensively renovated buildings.
- Making and keeping employee areas inaccessible creates structural barriers to employment, and enables discriminatory hiring practices.
- The unemployment rate for people with disabilities is twice that of non-disable people.
- This contributes to higher rates of poverty and homelessness, segregates people with disabilities into certain sectors, and prevents people with disabilities from fully participating in our communities.
Alternative Housing Voucher Program (AHVP) (line item 7004-9030)
The Alternative Housing Voucher Program provides mobile housing vouchers to individuals with disabilities under 60 years old who qualify for Chapter 667. In 1995, when the program was first launched, there were 800 vouchers. Now there are only 618.
Increase funding for line-item #7004-9030 to $8 million. This will:
- Give people with disabilities the tools they need to escape homelessness, substandard housing, and abusive situations, take care of their own health, and contribute to their communities.
- Allow people in nursing homes to regain their freedom by moving them back into their communities so they can contribute and live full, meaningful lives.
Durable Medical Equipment Reuse Program (line item 4120-4000)
REquipment collects and refurbishes gently-used durable medical equipment (DME) free of charge for distribution to seniors, veterans and people with disabilities of all ages. First piloted in Greater Boston in 2014, the program has since reassigned over 2,700 pieces of DME statewide, representing significant savings to Medicaid and other insurance programs.
More than $5 million worth of devices, ranging from power wheelchairs to shower benches, have gone to residents to assist with their activities of daily living. People who request our equipment come from all over the state and use it to maintain their independence, keep their jobs, and stay safe in their homes.
Please support funding for Assistive Technology and Durable Medical Equipment Reuse in MRC Line Item 4120-400 and ensure the earmark language …” provided, that not less than $1,920,000 shall be expended for assistive technology services; is included.