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A Progress Report on Fulfilling America's Promise to Americans with Disabilities

Chapter 4. Promoting Full Access to Community Life

Promoting Homeownership for People with Disabilities

For many, homeownership is the cornerstone of the "American Dream." The New Freedom Initiative promotes independence and access to the "American Dream" through homeownership.


Expanding Rental Housing Choices

While homeownership is important, there is also a dire need for accessible, quality, tenant-based housing for people with disabilities. The Administration is working to expand rental choices for people with disabilities and to increase enforcement of the Fair Housing Act.

Administration Accomplishments


Next Steps



Swift Implementation of the Olmstead Decision

The President is committed to the enforcement of Title II of the ADA and to providing people with disabilities the choice to live in the community among friends and family.


Administration Community Living Accomplishments

    1. The Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services will create a pilot project to refer appropriate Olmstead-related complaints received by the Department of Health and Human Services to an ADA mediation program established by the Justice Department. The mediation program has more than 450 professional mediators trained in the ADA and available nationwide.
    2. The Department of Justice is developing three technical assistance pieces on the implementation of the Olmstead decision. The first piece, which will be developed jointly with the Department of Health and Human Services, will provide guidance to states as they create comprehensive plans for community placement of persons with disabilities. The Department of Justice is also developing two "Know Your Rights" pieces, one for people currently residing within institutions and the other for persons at risk of institutionalization.

Next Steps

    1. The Department of Health and Human Services will create a 10-year home and community-based services demonstration as an alternative to Medicaid-funded psychiatric residential treatment centers for children. The proposed demonstration will allow states to provide children with emotional disturbances an array of services similar to those provided under home and community-based waivers in order to keep homes intact and avoid costly out-of-home placements in institutions.
    2. The Department of Health and Human Services will initiate a national demonstration designed to address workforce shortages of community service direct care workers. Specifically, the demonstration will test the extent to which workforce shortages and instabilities might be addressed through: (a) better coordination with the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program, and (b) the availability of vouchers for worker health insurance coverage and/or for tuition and day care credits. Participating states will be expected to develop options for workers to purchase affordable health insurance coverage through the state health insurance system or similar organized insurance groups.
    3. The Department of Health and Human Services will conduct a national demonstration to allow states to provide respite care services for caregivers of adults with disabilities. Respite care, which is temporary care that offers support for family members, is critical to addressing the unrelieved caregiver burden in this country. This burden is a major contributing factor to institutionalization of individuals with disabilities. Under the demonstration, states will have more flexibility under the Medicaid program to offer respite services to certain unpaid providers. In return, states will have to maintain current financial commitments for caregiver support.
    4. The Department of Health and Human Services will implement and evaluate a 10-year demonstration providing respite care for caregivers of children who have substantial disabilities. This project will help caregivers cope with the challenges of caring for children with disabilities by allowing them more flexible respite services and other tailored services designed to meet their needs and keep their homes intact.
    1. The President requested $6 million for the Department of Housing and Urban Development to fund 1,000 Section 8 rental subsidy vouchers for people with disabilities who are transitioning from institutions into the community.
    2. The President requested $15 million in funding for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for grants to states and communities to develop, implement, and assess integrated services for individuals with co-occurring mental illness and substance abuse disorders. Some of these individuals are reentering society from confinement in the criminal justice system.
    3. Recognizing the important role of the Centers for Independent Living in helping people move into the community and locate services, the President requested an increase of $7 million, or 11 percent, for the Centers. The community-based Centers are run by and for people with disabilities and provide services such as outreach, advocacy, and personal assistance services referral.
    4. The President requested $11 million, an increase of $5 million, for the Department of Labor’s Olmstead Community Employment Initiative. The Initiative will develop and implement a coordinated strategy to meet the employment and training needs of people with disabilities who are at risk of institutionalization and who are transitioning from institutions into the workplace and the community.


The President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health

Currently, numerous Federal, state, and local government agencies oversee mental health policies, funding, programs, and a diverse network of public and private providers. These entities are doing valuable and necessary work. However, better coordination can result in more efficient and effective mental health services and can enhance the quality of life for people with psychiatric disabilities.


Improving Access

The heart and spirit of the community can be found in local civic and faith-based organizations. Contributing to the community’s well-being depends on involvement in community organizations and in the political process. The President is committed to increasing access to local organizations and participation in the political process.


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