101st Assembly District
Kevin Cahill

Room 557 LOB, Albany, NY 12248 • (518) 455-4436
Governor Clinton Building, One Albany Ave., Suite G-4
Kingston, NY 12401 • (845) 338-9610

For Immediate Release
Date: July 1, 2004
Contact: Kathy Keyser
(845) 338-9610

Assemblymember Cahill's Able Column
Increased Accessible Housing Needed for New Yorkers with Disabilities - July 2004

All across New York we are hearing more and more from concerned residents about the lack of adequate and affordable housing. Compounding this growing problem, accessible housing has become a very scarce commodity, thus posing 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 a traditional home and remain a member of their own community without the fear of relocating to an institutionalized setting. This demand is reflected in the U.S. Supreme Court's Olmstead decision, which states that the unnecessary segregation of individuals with disabilities in institutions is discriminatory and could be considered a violation of a person's civil rights.

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 several steps. 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.

Community interest and participation at this event was significant. 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.

The Task Force also received written testimony from several individuals who were unable or chose not to attend in person. Our major goal is to incorporate the information presented into our legislative agenda. Task Force staff is now in the process of compiling the testimony and documentation and putting together a hearing report.

We are already drafting legislation that would create a New York State accessible housing registry. Testimony at the hearing has been instrumental in helping us fine tune this 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.

It has been said that every journey starts with a single step. Our hearing may just be that step. 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, New York's finest advocates, in our effort to address this mounting crisis.

Assemblymember Kevin A. Cahill, Chair
New York State Assembly Task Force on People with Disabilities
Agency Building 4, 13th Floor, Albany, NY 12248