The following are my answers to the 2019 Disability Issues Survey.
1. People with disabilities and seniors are often stuck in nursing facilities due to a lack of accessible housing. Particularly in the City of Rochester, there are limited options for someone who wants to transition out of a facility and into housing in the community. If elected, what will you do to ensure that disabled people and seniors are not forced to live in a nursing facility instead of independently in their community?
As we know, most government resources for people with disabilities come through the County or the State. But one thing the City of Rochester can do is to drastically increase the amount of accessible housing in the City limits. I am committed to a drastic overhaul of zoning codes in which all development is mandated to use universal design. Developers will scream about this, but I think it is a valid use of the City’s lawyers to take this to court citing Olmstead and other precedents.
2. The City of Rochester has already shown interest in Visitability and has worked with Center for Disability Rights on an ordinance that would require new homes built in Rochester that are from City-sponsored programs to have at least one no-step entrance, a first floor bathroom and a 36-inch clearance passage for all main floor internal doorways. What would you do to make apartment complexes more affordable to the Disability Community?
The City has to stop using County statistics when concluding what is “affordable”. Currently we use the County’s Average Median Income (AMI). The City’s AMI is less than half that. If we use the City’s, then mandates for developers to integrate affordable housing into their projects would actually create affordable housing instead of the miscarriages of justice they build now.
The City also needs to start lobbying the Federal Government to lift their restrictions on the integration of affordable housing with market rate housing. Currently, they forbid any project to do this when HUD money is used for a project.
The City (and County) needs to treat housing as a human right and not as an economic driver. My platform has other, more efficient, holistic, and effective ways of spurring economic growth.
3. The United States Supreme Court decided in 1999 that all individuals with disabilities have the right to live in the most integrated setting. Regardless of age, type of disability, or level of need, states cannot force people with disabilities to live in institutions. This ruling is most commonly known as the Olmstead decision. All States/local governments are required to comply with Olmstead. What is your plan to promote independent living for seniors and people with disabilities and ensure Olmstead compliance within the City of Rochester?
I want the City of Rochester to earmark 30% of its Community Development Block Grant money it receives from the State and Federal Governments for retrofitting homes and apartments in order for people to stay in their homes.
4. People within the Disability Community need transportation that is accessible, affordable and dependable in order to secure employment, access health care, shop for necessities and engage in their communities. Many of us need access to paratransit to continue to be a part of our community. In fact, without paratransit, many of us would be in danger of being institutionalized. Paratransit services cost much more to operate and are more expensive for the consumer than regular fixed route services and receives federal funding only for capital expenses. If elected, how will you support appropriate funding for paratransit services?
I would like to see all public transportation be free – including paratransit. I honestly believe that would take dissolving the Rochester-Genesee Regional Transportation Authority and replacing it with an entity that does not come with a for-profit business model. I would also like to see the replacing entity be democratically-run by actual members of the community who use public transportation.
5. There are approximately 35,000 people with disabilities living in Rochester and disabled people account for 22% of people living in poverty in Rochester. What will you do to ensure that disabled Rochestarians have full access to the community and the City’s services?
I would like every program, service, and building run by the City of Rochester to adhere a locally-created set of accessibility guidelines that goes far beyond the ADA. To do this would require financial and human resources to make sure the City complies with its own standards that are established ahead of time and not just when someone with a disability wants to come to a meeting. I want to make it protocol for a checklist be used to make sure that every meeting, event, and service provided by the City is accessible BEFORE the public is aware of its taking place. This can easily be paid for by leveraging Federal and State funding, grants, and by revamping how we spend our tax revenue. My ideas on the latter can be read at https://www.daveforchange.org/budget.
6. People with disabilities are limited by their transportation options in our city. This leads to having to plan their lives days in advance or opting to stay at home. For people living in nursing facilities or institutions, getting out into the community may be the only freedom they have. In the City of Rochester, we have nearly 10 taxi companies and none of them have accessible vehicles. This is not only an ADA violation but it’s effecting the disability population who just want access to same day rides. If elected, how will you support the Disability Community in creating more accessible transportation options?
My main economic development idea is to use public money that we usually give away to developers to build downtown housing we do not need and instead give it to actual citizens of Rochester to create cooperative businesses that fill the gaping holes we have in our society. One such possible business is a cooperatively-owned ridesharing service in which the drivers actually own and run the business. These drivers would include people with disabilities. This could be just a paratransit operation, but it is probably a better business decision to make it an integrated company of paratransit and non-paratransit trips. You can read more about my ideas on cooperatives at https://www.daveforchange.org/cooperatives.
The survey is sponsored by AutismUp, Center for Disability Rights, New York Disability Vote Network, Regional Center for Independent Living, Rochester ADAPT