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Trudy Shields knows firsthand how hard it can be to find affordable, accessible, integrated housing. Southeast Kansas has limited opportunities. Additionally Trudy experienced discrimination as a person with a disability.
Trudy is an example of a self empowered advocate. Pulling together resources locally from SKIL Resource Center and working directly with HUD, Trudy worked through the paperwork to successfully negotiate a resolution to the discrimination she experienced.
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Legislative history from the turn of the century shows that people with disabilities have been viewed as everything from "unfit" to "dangerous" to a "detriment to normal society." These views directly led to the establishment of our nation's very long history of government imposed segregation of people with disabilities.
People with disabilities across the United States are forced into institutions, like nursing facilities, due to the lack of housing that meets their needs for accessibility, affordability, and integration. In many states, housing is the number one reason that people with disabilities, of all ages, are forced into institutions. Simply put, people with disabilities face a HOUSING CRISIS. There is little housing that is accessible, even less that is also affordable, and still less that is also integrated.
People with significant disabilities often cannot find housing that allows them to simply get in the front door. There are few requirements to build apartments and homes that are accessible and what requirements there are have been poorly enforced. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is rarely heeded by housing authorities and rarely enforced by The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The Fair Housing Amendments Act has limited impact and, again, enforcement is sparse. Many thousands of units that should have been accessible are not, due to the lack of enforcement.
The housing options in this system of imposed segregation are large warehouse-like state operated institutions and smaller institutions, such as group homes. People with disabilities are considered "sick" and in need of treatment to be cured. The perception that people with disabilities need to be "treated" unfortunately continues in our society today. Housing options for people with disabilities, therefore, have resembled medical centers rather than what most people would call a home.
Six years ago Heather Matty experienced a brain injury. She was told she would never work again and that she would not be able to speak at the ability she had before.
Many people with disabilities want to work but worry that doing so could jeopardize their vital health and long term care coverage. Working Healthy offers people with disabilities who are working or interested in working the opportunity to get or keep Medicaid coverage while on the job. Through Working Healthy people can earn more, save more, achieve their career goals, and still maintain their health coverage.
Heather now works through the Working Healthy program. She is the Resource Liaison for the Brain Injury association of Kansas and Greater Kansas City. Daily she shares information about resources to people who are in similar situations. She may discuss items with someone on the phone or send items in the mail. She also uses the computer for research and to email information to people as they request.
Heather switched from the TBI Waiver (Traumatic Brian Injury Waiver) in January of 2009. This enabled her to work with a co-pay of $69 a month rather than the over $500 co-pay on the TBI Waiver.
She has a goal of going to a full time position and possibly working on a Masters degree as well.
Brain Injury Association of Kansas and Greater Kansas City
6405 Metcalf Ave, suite 302
Overland Park, KS 66202
The website for the Brain Injury Association of Kansas and Greater Kansas City is www.biaks.org
The toll free number is 1-800-444-6443 or local 913-754-8883.
Working Healthy is a Medicaid program. To qualify for this program, a person must:
Have a disability determined by Social Security;
Be no younger than 16 and no older than 64;
Have total income of less than 300% of the Federal Poverty Level;
Not be receiving Home and Community Based Services;
Not be living in a nursing facility; and
Have resources that are less than $15,000.
If you are interested in enrolling in Working you can enroll in a number of ways. If you already have an SRS worker, you can contact that person and ask to enroll. You can also contact the Benefits Specialist for your region, and request assistance in applying for the program. Or you may call your local SRS Office, and request an application. The application form is called an ES-3100.
For more information contact your nearest SKIL office.