Viewing entries tagged
Developmentally Disabled Housing

Cooper Hewitt Lab - Designing Accessible Cities Symposium


Cooper Hewitt Lab - Designing Accessible Cities Symposium

Building a more inclusive city is a design opportunity. Join us for a day of ignite talks and critical discussions presented in partnership with the NYC Mayor’s Office for Disabilities to explore the barriers that make cities inaccessible and the innovations that promote intentional user-focused design.
— Cooper Hewitt - Designing Accessible Cities Symposium

Last week I attended this design seminar at Cooper Hewitt, and I found Patricia Moore of ‎MooreDesign's talk to be the most interesting for our Special Needs population. I can't say that this has short-term relavancy for our population, but it did open me up to integrating our population with "other" populations including wheelchair, Veteran, elderly, artist, and others. 

The entire morning session is here on YouTube and Patricia's talk starts at 48:00. Speakers in order were:

  • Keira Gwynn, Designer, R82 Scallop
  • Kat Holmes, Founder, KATA
  • Patricia Moore, President, MooreDesign Associates
  • Elise Roy, Inclusive Design Strategist

The afternoon panel conversation was “Designing Accessible Cities”, and it was moderated by Victor Calise, Commissioner, Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, and the panel included:


  • Keira Gwynn, Designer, R82 Scallop
  • Kat Holmes, Founder, KATA
  • Patricia Moore, President, ‎MooreDesign Associates
  • Elise Roy, Inclusive Design Strategist
  • Kleo King, Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities
  • Alex Elegudin, Wheeling Forward
  • Luke DuBois, NYU Tandon School of Engineering


The ABLE Act: A Tool for Financial Stability and Employment Outcomes

The ABLE Act: A Tool for Financial Stability and Employment Outcomes

The ABLE Act amends Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Service Code of 1986 to create tax-advantaged savings accounts for individuals with disabilities. These tax-advantaged savings accounts can be used to cover qualified disability expenses such as, but not limited to, education, housing and transportation.
— National Disability Institute

This seminar was on April 27, 2017. Below is information where you can follow up. 

The LEAD Center, in collaboration with the ABLE National Resource Center, will be holding a webinar focused on how individuals with disabilities, and their families, can use ABLE Accounts to increase their financial stability and produce more positive employment outcomes. The webinar will take place on April 27th at 3:00-4:30 pm EST and aims to demonstrate how provisions in the ABLE Act can enable people with disabilities to achieve competitive integrated employment, begin to save more than $2,000 without fear of loss of SSI and Medicaid eligibility and set longer term goals for financial stability and self-determined and self-directed lives. The presentation will review the basic elements of these new ABLE account programs, now open in 19 states, and will include the perspective of a current ABLE account owner.

For some basic information about ABLE accounts, we encourage you to watch the video and/or read the summary of 10 Things You Should Know about ABLE Accounts, prior to the webinar.

New York State Residents

In the craziness of our DD world, I was informed on the call that New York State residents can actually open an ABLE account in Ohio (and some other states). More to follow. 

Special Needs Trust versus ABLE Account

  • A key distinction is an ABLE account would be in Dustin Sweeney's name. A Special Needs Trust would have a separate Trustee that is NOT Dustin Sweeney. 
  • They are compatible, and can work complementary to each other. 

Madison House #IMAGINE21 - Documentary Series on Post-21 Autism Adults


Madison House #IMAGINE21 - Documentary Series on Post-21 Autism Adults

Madison House Autism Foundation is excited to introduce the premiere of the #Imagine21 mini-documentary series!

At age 21, our friends with autism lose access to many of the supports they receive as children. #Imagine21 films highlight the incredible stories of adults living with autism. Through them, viewers will be intimately acquainted with just a few of the people behind this diagnosis and come to a fuller understanding of the value they have to add to our lives when communities respond to the challenges they face.

Watch Jeffrey's story below that focuses on the topic of post-secondary education and the importance of lifelong learning for adults on the autism spectrum.


AHRC NYC: Guide to Independent Living for People with Disabilities


AHRC NYC: Guide to Independent Living for People with Disabilities

Reposted from AHRC NYC:

Self-advocates from AHRC New York City, the Brooklyn-based design studio Second Marriage, and the Center for Urban Pedagogy, (CUP) have collaborated to create a comprehensive, easy-to-understand guide to independent living for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, through CUP’s Making Policy Public program.  The Center for Urban Pedagogy is a nonprofit organization that uses the power of design and art to increase meaningful civic engagement. CUP collaborates with designers, educators, advocates, students, and communities to make educational tools that demystify complex policy and planning issues.

The self-advocates who helped to shape the guide by providing their insights and feedback included Timothy HicksJanice BartleyDaphne DesinorEmily Schwarz, and Chad DeRoche.

AHRC NYC’s Individualized Supports staff, Carole GothelfDirectorJennifer TeichProject Coordinator; and Nicholas LegowskiSelf-Advocacy Advisor, all took active roles in the project.

The guide is a foldout poster complete with interactive charts, FAQs, and information about organizations that can help people with disabilities achieve their independent living goals.

Access the Free Guide Online

The guide can be viewed online, and AHRC NYC’s Individualized Supports department is working to provide printed version of the guide to a variety of organizations across the state.

Request Copies of the Printed Guide

If you would like to request a stock of these guides via mail, please contact one of the following people:

Carole Gothelf,   212-780-2795
Jennifer Teich,   914-224-2199
Nicholas Legowski,    917-484-2245


Curbed NYC - A tool to find "Affordable Housing" in NYC

Curbed NYC - A tool to find "Affordable Housing" in NYC

Very nice tool for finding Affordable Housing in NYC:

and here are 11 examples of current models at Curbed NY:

"Affordable apartments certainly aren't easy to come by in New York City, but there's at least one source for those looking for less expensive housing: NYC Housing Connect, the city's one-stop-shop for all of the different affordable units (some in all-affordable buildings, others in luxury ones) coming onto the market. The site is updated regularly with new listings, and here, we've compiled all of the lotteries that are currently open to New Yorkers.

As with all things, though, there are caveats: applicants must make a certain percentage of the area median income (AMI); and, unsurprisingly, as more people search for affordable units, the number of applicants in these lotteries grows. But hey, it's still worth a shot. We'll update this map continuously, so be sure to tip us if you see a development that hasn't made it onto the list yet."

Project Financing Case Study: The Disability Opportunity Fund & Charles Hammerman Fund Homesteads for Hope in Rochester, NY


Project Financing Case Study: The Disability Opportunity Fund & Charles Hammerman Fund Homesteads for Hope in Rochester, NY

Chuck & Jennyrae Brongo @ "The Farm"

Chuck & Jennyrae Brongo @ "The Farm"

Homesteads for Hope was at a standstill, as we could not be a true community farm without the farm. Banks would not look at us without a down payment and significant collateral. Charlie Hammerman and the DOF offered money and guidance that no bank could ever provide.
— Jennyrae Brongo - Founder of Homesteads for Hope

I had a chance to catch up with Charles Hammerman of The Disability Opportunity Fund (DOF) on Long Island. I have known Charlie for a long time, and he deserves credit for his and his wife's determined efforts at The DOF. Background on DOF and Charlie:

The DOF is a community development financial institution (CDFI), that was launched in April 2007. It is located in Albertson, Long Island and operates nationally. As a 501c(3) tax-exempt organization they provide financing, technical services, and policy advocacy to increase access to appropriate and affordable housing and related services for people with disabilities throughout the United States.

Charles Hammerman

Charles Hammerman

Charlie Hammerman brings many years of involvement with initiatives for people with disabilities and significant experience in the financial markets. Prior to the creation of The DOF, Hammerman founded the Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University, an organization that advances civic, economic and social participation of persons with disabilities in a global society. Hammerman and his wife, Nanci, have seven children, including a daughter with cerebral palsy.

What is a CDFI?

Think of a Community Development Financial Institution as a BANK that lends to markets NOT served by traditional financial institutions. CDFI's provide: 

  • Mortgage financing for low income or first time homebuyers,
  • Small business lending, and
  • Lending for community facilities. 

You can join the Disability CDFI Coalition at DOF:

Which comes first? The house or the community/services? 

Charlie always challenges me to think outside the box. As the Developmentally Disabled population -- and their parents -- ages and moves to the next phase of housing and communities, the question that I continually see raised involves the choice between community and housing. Which comes first?

Some of the issues are:

  • Many of the needed services are in population dense areas where there is a high cost of housing;
  • Cost of housing is also a problem for staff;
  • Many of the lower cost of housing areas do not have the services or the workforce to staff existing and new services. 

The Rochester, NY model below is trying to resolve this tension. It will address the criteria of "Inclusion" in the community. 

The Disability Opportunity Fund (DOF) Success Story: Homesteads for Hope - Rochester, NY

The Disability Opportunity Fund provided Homesteads for Hope (H4H) a $1,200,000 loan to acquire and renovate a family farm. In September 2016, H4H moved into its new home as 100 volunteers (now 250 volunteers have helped) celebrated by updating the barn and other areas of the farm. H4H has a three-step process that combines services and housing:

Phase 1: The Forever Homestead 

Launched 2016 - The renovation of the historic barns will allow year-round programming, the creation of an expanded Farm School, a Multi-Farm CSA Vocational Program, and the first Non-Certified Residence. 

Phase II: The Farm Expansion

To serve more people by creating more programs & services through the development of a public venue.

Phase III: The Homesteads Village

The development and donstruction of a 30-acre non-certified residential village to accommodate over 150 people living with and without disabilities.

Homesteads for Hope (H4H) was founded by Jenny Brongo who is the sibling of a person on the autism spectrum. Jenny has developed H4H for him and others in Ogden, NY outside of Rochester. The H4H property has 2500 feet of shoreline on the Erie Canal, a house, with an attached apartment, barns, out buildings and a greenhouse. I spoke with Jenny this week, and I expect to visit the farm in early June:


LEND Research Project:  Library Access for Individuals with I/DD

LEND Research Project: Library Access for Individuals with I/DD

John Matby of WIHD

John Matby of WIHD

From our friend John Maltby of the Westchester Institute for Human Development (WIHD):

Dr. Patricia Patrick explains a research effort here at WIHD which she leads. Please help to get this survey out to as many people as possible, all results are anonymous. Thanks for your help.

Westchester Institute for Human Development (WIHD) is a local organization that provides services and supports for individuals with disabilities and their families/caregivers. They are currently conducting a research study to better understand library accessibility for individuals with disabilities. Ultimately, the goal of the study is to provide libraries with possible recommendations on how to improve their ability to serve all people. This is something that can directly impact you, your child or the individuals to whom you provide support.  Please take a few moments to complete the appropriate anonymous survey below to help make a difference! 

Click here for the survey for family members or caregivers 

Click here for the survey for individuals with disabilities