Wednesday, March 31, 2010

People with disabilities have spending power

I was honored and humbled to be at work today.
I was part of a  legislative delegation looking at San Francisco's long-term care services,
specifically those services transitioning individuals living in Laguna Honda
Hospital back into the community.
We visited my friend Marc's apartment near
Golden gate Park and the MUNI train.
Marc lives in an accessible unit on the
5th floor. Marc uses a wheelchair and an augmentative communication device called a Dyna Vox.
Marc gave a tour of his apartment. He spoke about
the 10.5 years he lived in Laguna Honda Hospital and the community support
services he utilize while moving into his own place.

Marc went to court in order to be able to leave the nursing home. The court said San Francisco had to
improve their community based services. There are complex political, resource
and capacity issues that I am not going to speak to in this post.
Here's what
I see, a limited amount of people like Marc are beginning to thrive in
accessible apartments in neighborhoods throughout the city (not just in the TL). This is largely due to legal action and community/political work resulting in a wider scope of services like targeted case management and financial subsidies not found
in other jurisdictions.
We could use more of the good services like peer
mentoring and targeted case management here in San Francisco and some of what
is being done here should be duplicated elsewhere- cause it works.

I  asked Marc what he liked most about living in his own apartment.
Marc  doesn't speak words well, but he is a skilled communicator.
Marc took out
his ATM card and held it in one hand. In his other hand he held out his Safeway
club card.
" I Like spending my own money and I like to eat."
I asked him how it felt to spend his own money. He replied, "freeing."

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