May 2004

Accessible Housing for People with Disabilities

All across New York we are hearing more and more concerns about safe, adequate and affordable housing. Compounding this growing problem, accessible housing for people with disabilities has become a very scarce commodity. The lack of accessible housing units is a tremendous hurdle in the effort to ensure that people with disabilities are served in the most integrated settings possible. Most people with disabilities echo a strong desire to stay within their home and remain a member of their own community without the fear of relocating to an institutionalized setting. How is that possible when accessible housing is getting even tougher to find?

The absence of accessible and affordable housing is a critical issue that needs to be addressed immediately so that people with disabilities can live independently and happily in their own homes and in our communities.

To that end, the Assembly has initiated steps to address this issue for people with disabilities. Our first move was to seek public input and suggestions. The Task Force, along with the Assembly Housing Committee chaired by Assemblymember Vito Lopez, sponsored a public hearing on accessible and affordable housing for New Yorkers with disabilities on April 30, 2004 in New York City.

We were overwhelmed by the community interest and participation at this event. Over 40 individuals presented testimony that included the following topics:

  • Statistics regarding persons with disabilities currently living in affordable, accessible housing and the number of people seeking such accommodations.
  • Experiences of New Yorkers who have had difficulty in finding affordable, accessible housing and the particular obstacles that they have come up against.
  • Possible solutions, including banning income discrimination, creating a state registry of accessible and affordable housing, making visitability a part of the New York State Building Code and expanding the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) program to people with disabilities.
  • Recommendations for funding solutions to develop affordable, accessible housing units and any other pertinent data or information.
  • Recommendations for further legislative responses.

The Task Force has also received written testimony submitted by several individuals who were unable or chose not to attend. Our major goal is to formulate a legislative agenda based on the issues presented at the public hearing. Task Force staff is now in the process of compiling the information gathered and putting together a hearing report as we begin to formulate our legislative agenda on housing issues.

We are already drafting legislation that would create a New York State accessible housing registry to be known as Access-New York. Testimony at the hearing has been instrumental in helping us craft a better legislative directive. This comprehensive new tool will assist people with disabilities in finding a suitable place to live that meets both their accessibility and budget requirements.

Provided by the
New York State Assembly
Task Force on People with Disabilities

Agency Building 4, 13th Floor
Albany, NY 12248
Assemblymember Kevin A. Cahill, Chair
Kimberly T. Hill, Director

While we have started on a journey in the right direction, there is much more that needs to be done. People with disabilities deserve to have a home where they can lead comfortable and productive lives and remain an integrated part of their communities. We look forward to working with many of you in our effort to address this mounting crisis.

New York State Assembly
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