CID is participating in Silicon Valley Gives, a one-day online giving event on May 3, 2016. Help us bring our message of direct services, community awareness, and systemic advocacy to more people with disabilities in San Mateo County. Please check us out on the SV Gives website and share our page! Thank you.
By Danielle Douglas-Gabriel April 12 at 4:47 PM
The Obama administration plans to forgive $7.7 billion in federal student loans held by nearly 400,000 permanently disabled Americans.
By law, anyone with a severe disability is eligible to have the government discharge their federal student loans. The administration took steps four years ago to make the process easier by letting people who are totally and permanently disabled use their Social Security designation to apply for a discharge, but few took advantage. The Department of Education is now taking it upon itself to identify eligible borrowers and guide them through the steps to discharge their loans.
“Too many eligible borrowers were falling through the cracks, unaware they were eligible for relief,” said Education Under Secretary Ted Mitchell in a statement. “Americans with disabilities have a right to student loan relief. And we need to make it easier, not harder, for them to receive the benefits they are due.”
Working with the Social Security Administration, the department has been identifying borrowers receiving disability payments and have the specific designation of “Medical Improvement Not Expected,” which indicates they are eligible for the discharge. The agencies found 387,000 matches in its first review. About 179,000 of those people are currently in default on their loans, putting them at risk of losing their tax refunds and having their Social Security benefits garnished.
“The creation of the matching program is a great first step, but the administration needs to go further to ensure that no borrower who has a right to student loan relief has their benefits taken,” said Persis Yu, the National Consumer Law Center’s student loan borrower assistance project director. “Borrowers receiving SSDI need these payments to survive.”
Starting next week, borrowers identified in the match will receive a letter from the government explaining the steps needed to receive a discharge. They will not be required to submit documentation of their eligibility, unlike disabled borrowers who apply for the discharge on their own. Notification letters will be sent over a 16-week period, and followed up with a second letter after 120 days.
The letters will inform borrowers of the tax implication of the discharge, since the government has the right to tax the amount of money forgiven.
Tuesday’s announcement is an outgrowth of President Obama’s Student Aid Bill of Rights, which directed federal agencies to overhaul the way Americans repay student loans.
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Do you need extra income? Have an extra room? Renting out a room in your home is a great way to reduce costs. HIP Housing’s non-profit Home Sharing program can help make that a safe, comfortable process. HIP Housing has given free, long-term support in San Mateo County for over 40 years.
Right now HIP Housing has funding to provide a $250 bonus to persons who rent a room to someone in our program after they have lived there 90 days. Now is the time to put that extra room to good use, earn monthly rental income and an extra $250 bonus!
To learn more about HIP Housing, contact Laura Fanucchi at 650-348-6660 x 303 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
February 24, 2016—Berkeley, CA—A lawsuit filed today in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California alleges that Serra Yellow Cab (“Serra”) violates federal and state law by charging wheelchair users up to four times more than the standard fare because they require accessible taxis. Serra, a for-profit transportation company based in Daly City, California, is the only taxi company to offer wheelchair accessible taxis for retail taxi service in San Mateo County. Serra has been on notice since 2013 that this discriminatory policy and practice is illegal, but it continues to this day.
Accessible taxis provide either a lift or ramp into the vehicle. Passengers in power chairs (or wheelchairs that cannot fit into the vehicle trunk) and/or passengers who are unable to transfer from their wheelchair to the vehicle seat require accessible taxis in order to use taxi service.
The suit is brought by the Center for Independence of Individuals with Disabilities (“CID”) and Joseph Del Aguila. Plaintiff CID is the independent living center for San Mateo County, with a mission to advance the independence of individuals with disabilities. As a part of its mission, CID advocates for those persons with disabilities who require accessible taxis. In fact, CID notified Serra in 2013 that charging wheelchair users a higher fare for taxi service is unlawful. Mr. Del Aguila uses a wheelchair because of a mobility disability and needs a lift or a ramp to board a taxi. On one occasion, Mr. Del Aguila was charged $35.00 for a trip of 1.5 miles which took less than 10 minutes. Plaintiffs are represented by Disability Rights Advocates, a national non-profit organization specializing in litigation on behalf of people with disabilities.
“Serra’s discriminatory practice robs persons with disabilities of their independence,” said David DeNola, Executive Director of CID. “Persons who need accessible taxi service are forced to pay ridiculously high fares for taxi service, rely on others to assist them in traveling throughout the area, or simply not participate in the activities of their daily lives. No one, disabled or not, should have to make this choice.”
According to Vincent Merola, Systems Change Coordinator at CID, “This is not the first time Serra Cab has been notified about their unlawful practices. It’s unconscionable that they would continue to prey off of those in our community who are often times the most vulnerable.”
Joseph Del Aguila, said, “I would like the option of using taxis to get to meetings, medical appointments, and cultural activities, but the cost of Serra’s accessible taxi service is prohibitive. Because Serra is the only choice for people like me who require accessible taxis, I’m forced to find less efficient alternatives to taxi service. I don’t think it’s right that I’m in this dilemma just because I have a mobility disability.”
“People with mobility disabilities need affordable transportation to get to work, health care, and places like restaurants, movie theaters, and parks. Accessible taxis are often more reliable and flexible than paratransit, a good alternative to owning one’s own vehicle, and a replacement for public transportation that has its own access issues,” said Mary-Lee Smith, Director of Litigation at Disability Rights Advocates. “Serra’s practice of charging people with mobility disabilities an exorbitant fare obstructs full and equal community integration and participation for these individuals.”
A copy of the Complaint is available at www.dralegal.org.
About Disability Rights Advocates (DRA):
With offices in New York and California, Disability Rights Advocates (DRA) is one of the leading non-profit disability rights legal centers in the nation. DRA’s mission is to advance equal rights and opportunities for people with all types of disabilities nationwide. As a part of that mission, DRA recently entered into a landmark settlement that dramatically improves access to taxis in New York City for people with mobility disabilities, increasing the number of accessible taxis from 2% of the fleet to 50% of the fleet. www.dralegal.org
Mary-Lee Smith, Disability Rights Advocates, (510) 665-8644
Center for Independence of Individuals with Disabilities (CID) v. Serra Yellow Cab
Daily Journal Article: Suit alleges Serra Yellow Cab inequity: Disabled man says company illegally charged him more
NBC11 Coverage of Suit
ABC7 Coverage of Suit
CA Coalition for Youth (CCY)
Taking Action Conference 2016
April 24-26, 2016 ~ Holiday Inn, Capitol Plaza ~ Sacramento
CCY Opens Applications for Conference Youth Scholarships
Do you know a youth who would benefit from attending the
Taking Action Conference, but might need some financial help to get there?
Here's an opportunity to get that help!
The California Coalition for Youth has a limited number of full and partial scholarships covering the registration fees for TAC 2016, which is scheduled for April 24th to the 26th at the Holiday Inn, Capitol Plaza in Sacramento, CA. In addition, CCY will also be offering the Oscar Maldanado Scholarship, a full scholarship covering registration, travel, and lodging costs for a youth attending this year's TAC.
We're asking applicants to put pen to paper
and share their thoughts on a variety of essay topics
*All applicants need a CCY Member as a sponsor, so keep an eye out for young people who you believe should apply. Everything else is easy. Applicants just need to email or fax their application and essay by the February 26th deadline. We'll do the rest.
Want a look at the essay topics and more information?
Click here for the Youth Scholarship Application.
On July 26, 2010, the twentieth anniversary of the signing of the historic Americans with Disabilities Act, an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking addressing the obligation of public accommodations to provide websites that are accessible to individuals with disabilities was issued by the United States Department of Justice. At the time, President Obama correctly observed that these proposed rules would be “the most important updates to the ADA since its original enactment.” Yet the release date of the actual rule proposal for revising the Title III regulations of the ADA, originally scheduled for January of 2012, has been extended until sometime in 2018, eight years beyond the issuance of the original ANPRM and at least a year after the end of his administration. Having originally taken a strong stance on the importance of these regulations, it now seems like the Obama administration is wishing to wash its hands of them entirely.
As people with disabilities and organizations representing people with disabilities, we know first-hand that equal access to the internet is paramount for education, to obtain and retain employment, and for everyday tasks such as paying bills, online shopping, booking travel, etc. We will not sit idly by as the administration attempts to sideline this critical access issue, so the National Federation of the Blind has launched a petition demanding, in the strongest terms possible, that the administration issue these regulations immediately.
Upon reaching 100,000 signatures, the Obama administration is required to respond, so in addition to sharing our we the people petition via Email and your social media outlets, please personally ask 10 family members, friends, and colleagues to sign it and share it as well. A little personal contact goes a long way! 100,000 signatures is a lofty goal, but with the support of our partners in the disability community, we know we will reach that number.
We know that given the necessary tools and training, people with disabilities can reach our full potential. Join us in demanding the Obama administration release these critical regulations immediately.
Government Affairs Specialist
National Federation of the Blind
200 East Wells Street
At Jernigan Place
Baltimore, MD 21230
P: 410-659-9314 Ext. 2206
New Legal Details Emerge on City Sidewalk Repair Settlement
The proposed Settlement requires the City of Los Angeles (“the City”) to expend in excess of $1.367 billion over 30 years to make its public sidewalk and crosswalk system accessible to persons with mobility disabilities. It will require the City to install, repair, and upgrade curb ramps; repair sidewalks and walkways damaged by tree roots; repair broken or uneven pavement; correct non-compliant cross-slopes in sidewalks; install tree gates and missing utility covers; and remediate other inaccessible conditions. The proposed Settlement will also permit Class Members to submit requests for access repairs such as curb ramp installations and tree root fixes at specific locations, which the City will use its best efforts to remediate within 120 days of receiving the request. In addition, the proposed Settlement calls for the hiring of an ADA Coordinator for the Pedestrian Right of Way, and includes effective reporting, monitoring and dispute resolution mechanisms.
There is an extensive list of types of sidewalk repairs the city will perform:
- (a) Installation of missing curb ramps;
- (b) Repair of damage caused by tree roots to sidewalk or walkways surfaces;
- (c) Upgrading of existing curb ramps;
- (d) Repair of broken and/or uneven pavement in the pedestrian rights of way (including utility covers and repair covers) deeper and/or wider than 1/2 inch;
- (e) Repair of vertical or horizontal displacement or upheaval of the sidewalk or crosswalk surface greater than 1/2 inch (including sidewalk flags, curbs and utility covers);
- (f) Correction of non-compliant cross-slopes in sidewalks or sections of sidewalks
- (g) Removal of protruding and overhanging objects and/or obstructions that narrow pedestrian rights of way to less than 4 feet of accessible width;
- (h) Widening of pedestrian rights of way and sections thereof to provide 4 feet of accessible width;
- (i) Providing 4 feet of clearance to the entrances of public bus shelters;
- (j) Repair of excessive gutter slopes at the bottom of curb ramps leading into crosswalks;
- (k) Elimination of curb ramp lips on curb ramps;
- (l) Installation of accessible tree grates, or other compliant remediation, where such grates are missing from tree wells;
- (m) Installation of missing utility covers where such covers are missing from sidewalks, crosswalks or pathways; and
- (n) Remediation of other non-compliant conditions.
- within one year, hire an “ADA Coordinator for the Pedestrian Right of Way” whose responsibilities will include: generating twice-annual status reports on sidewalk repair progress, and recommending city policies and procedures to overcome barriers to access.
- within two years, create and maintain a publicly-available database listing and mapping completed and requested repairs and improvements.
- within two years, provide an “Access Request Program” that disabled people can use to submit requests for repairs in specific locations. Initially 20 percent of the city’s annual settlement funding will be targeted to fulfilling these requests.
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