|Mary Durheim, Chair
Andrew D. Crim, Vice Chair
Beth Stalvey, MPH, Ph.D., Executive Director
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Austin, TX 78741-7509
|Phone: (512) 437-5432
Toll-Free: (800) 262-0334
Fax: (512) 437-5434
Senate Intergovernmental Relations Committee
Public Testimony on Senate Bill 1118
April 23, 2019
Hello, my name is Ashley Ford and I am a Public Policy and Communications Specialist with the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD). TCDD is established by state and federal law and is governed by 27 Governor-appointed board members, 60 percent of whom are individuals with developmental disabilities or family members of individuals with disabilities. The Council’s purpose in law is to encourage policy change so that people with disabilities have opportunities to be fully included in their communities and exercise control over their own lives.
TCDD supports the position that Texans with disabilities should have the full range of accommodations and supports needed to live in their homes and communities, and we believe that SB 1118 furthers these goals.
The Amy Young Barrier Removal Program was named in memory of an advocate who worked on behalf of people with disabilities as a member of TCDD’s staff. Amy was tireless in her efforts to educate legislators, state agency personnel and others about the changes needed to allow every person to live independently.
As detailed in SB 1118, the Amy Young Barrier Removal Program would provide one-time grants of up to $20,000 for eligible entities to improve the accessibility of homes for low-income individuals with disabilities. These funds could be used for reasonable accommodations or modification for a tenant, homeowner or a member of their household with disabilities who needs assistance to fully access their home and live in their community.
This is an issue of poverty as much as accessibility. Because individuals with disabilities most often live on fixed incomes or the $771 a month provided through Supplemental Security Income (SSI), home accessibility modifications are often beyond their means. But an investment in such home accessibility modifications can keep an adult or older person in their home, safe, and out of costly institutions.
I’m grateful to the Committee for hearing SB 1118 today; it’s appropriate since April is National Fair Housing Month. TCDD hopes the Texas Legislature will continue exploring and supporting measures that can ensure all housing options are accessible to Texans with disabilities. In honor of Amy, we must promote housing options across the state that are affordable, integrated, and accessible, and that provide equal opportunity for Texans with and without disabilities to live in the community of their choice.
Please feel free to contact TCDD for additional information or if we can be of additional service.
Public Policy and Communications Specialist
Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities