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Proposal for Community Development and Revenue Sharing Block Grant from Center for Independent Living, Inc
Center for Independent Living, a non-profit organization based in Berkeley and serving the severely disabled consumer, makes this application for $53,000 for one year to begin funding its Housing Department. We are working to design housing to meet the needs of the community's disabled people. This project will demonstrate service delivery and do the planning for future expansion. The staff positions for which funding is requested are Program Manager, Planner, House-search Counselor, and Advocacy-Outreach Services Consultant.
Berkeley is increasingly barrier-free, offering accessible street corners and a municipal climate of support. At present there is a void in services to the disabled, who are often SSI recipients or otherwise low-income. This inner-city, however open its policies, has few accessible housing units. These, when available at all, are often beyond the means of our clients. New residents find homes where they can. Many must be accommodated and Berkeley has no major housing project for the disabled. Most of the nicer, older buildings have six or more steps, making them inaccessible. Many old structures need modification or rehabilitation. New buildings may be level or have elevators, but often have small rooms or elevators, garage doors, and security entrances that present barriers. Such apartments are usually available, but priced expensively or designed without human considerations. A bathroom and kitchen usable by someone in a wheelchair are uncommon. We try to assure that all new construction be accessible, but providing independent living arrangements for those on crutches, canes, walkers, in wheelchairs, or otherwise disabled entails renovation and adaptation.
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It may be assumed that some multiple of those requesting housing services would like to have more satisfactory housing, and a larger number could directly benefit from some assistance, and that these are a proportion (over 50%) of those orthopedically handicapped. Further, indirect services reach those outside the target area or those in families of disabled, by education, referrals, outreach, seminars, conferences, and research.
There are several problems in coming to a statistical determination of need. Primarily, there are bound to be some severely disabled who do not appear in a normal survey due to being shut-in or hesitating to mention their disability; while using client lists of rehabilitation agencies violates the right to privacy, it might be more complete but there would be overlap amongst different agencies. Secondly, dissatisfaction with housing is subjective and not easily quantifiable or possible to compare from person to person.
The vacancy rate in Berkeley is emergency level, two percent for housing available to the general population. The number of disabled that reach us with housing needs outstrips C.I.L.'s means to place them. The Center seeks solutions that remedy exclusion and dependency; through comprehensive spectrum of services, a whole range of needs is being met. We recognize the importance of education, making public transportation accessible to all, and developing new models. But there is little chance of low-income disabled becoming homeowners, and there is a role for special aftercare housing in the community. Little is being done to serve rehabilitants in a way that integrates them as normal members of society.
At Center for Independent Living we believe one must adapt the environment to live independently. To allow the most freedom, an individual must develop the solutions that remove barriers and create control over his/her own life. Methods must allow movement to required services and stores, but not make one overly-dependent on others. The scope or our program will be to act on behalf of the larger population as a model
― 3 ―and advocate and to directly serve clients who come to us with the supports of the Housing Department and the rest of C.I.L.
The Center offers services like attendant referral, counseling, wheelchair repair, and transportation, as well as being a role-model. Also helping people live in the community are these services: independent living skills training, health care, welfare advocacy and teaching through classes, growth groups, peer-counseling, and on-job-training. We consult with tenants, landlords, architects, rehabilitation counselors, other agencies, and government officials. Every day people seeking ideas or papers on barrier removal, designs and laws use our library of resource materials. We are aiding clients with Section 8 rent subsidy applications. Also as a referral source, we see that many people we encounter find the correct service elsewhere in the community.
Development of new models is part of our plan. Within the scope of the Housing Department will be the planning to buy and manage buildings for housing disabled and non-disabled. We will be seeking larger grants, loans or donations for this purpose. Developed with client-input, our strategy calls for integrated satellite homes and/or small residential clusters Existing housing stock would be modified and rehabilitated, with appropriate services for tenants supplied by the Center.
Our design integrates tenants, avoiding ghettoization, and provides management, backup services, and rehabilitation to people as well as houses. The program will remove barriers to make individual adaptations where necessary but allow access to as wide a range of people as possible. Using scattered clusters we might develop one as a transitional (halfway house) setting, one for independent living, and one as a group situation. Such an arrangement meets the needs for both aftercare and normal living. This could be operational within a year.
Three houses are part of the property that C.I.L. is attempting to purchase for its offices, and have been identified as possible sites. We already supply backup services and help individuals with modifications through design and referral. Much progress has been made on this project in conjunction with the University of California Architecture Department. A map of
― 4 ―the campus area indicating accessible and rampable addresses is being completed. A second class was held in summer 1975 which worked with disabled student-clients, designing models of accessible large apartment complexes for various local sites and for a combination of lifestyles. Now, working with Architecture 202, we are developing a model demonstration project; the current course has consumer participation from C.I.L. staff, clients, and the local disabled community. Funding for application fees, structural inspections, architects drawings might come from a foundation, with purchase money from Municipal Loans, State Housing Finance, land write-downs, or Revenue Bonds, and rehabilitation from similar sources or Community Development in the future.
The program of the Housing Department has, and will continue to have, the involvement of the disabled community. We have been operational without funds since January 1975, and the continuation of our project is in jeopardy. Many people manage to find dwellings independently or sharing with others, but substandard accommodations are often the only choice. Further, some landlords have been known to discriminate. Wheelchair people cannot enter a prospective rental that might be rampable even just to see it. Finding housing is an essential part of becoming re-integrated with the community.
We request the following staff positions: