On April 27 Thomas Silverstein of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (https://lawyerscommittee.org/) spoke before the D.C. Autism Society about a report the Committee is working on concerning equity and discrimination in D.C. housing. The Committee has worked with other public housing authorities in the country to identify key issues and make recommendations on the housing front, but this is the first time they have tuned their attention to Washington, D.C. Although the report’s focus is broader, there will be a chapter focused on the specific challenges of people with disabilities. That chapter will look at: trends in the numbers of people with disabilities in D.C.; issues of accessibility (in the broad sense, not just physical); and finally, broader issues of community integration. The report is being done under a consultancy to the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), but will treat issues that go beyond DHCD’s direct responsibility.
After the Silverstein presentation, there was a lively conversation centered on the personal experiences of people in the room, most of whom have family members receiving supported-living services from DDS. This group is a small subset of the people whose situations the Lawyers’ Committee will be looking at, but the same high rents that are leading DDS to move people to Prince George’s County obviously have an effect across the board of forcing people out of D.C. In addition, we discussed problems with set-aside units in new developments, including developers’ minimal efforts to advertise these units and difficulties some DDS providers say they have had in accessing such apartments for people they support. One attendee also called attention to Sedgwick Gardens, the less-than-successful effort at community integration on Connecticut Avenue that has been written about in the Washington Post: https://tinyurl.com/yy58h4yd.
The report will be available for public comment in two to three months and the Lawyers’ Committee plans to loop back to all the groups before whom they have presented. I’m hoping to get the Committee to the next public meeting of the D.C. Developmental Disabilities Council, on May 16, 3-5 p.m. at One Judiciary Square (here’s the flyer: https://tinyurl.com/y68g77bq). All are welcome, and I hope some of you also will be there!
Carol Grigsby shares information and advocates on issues affecting her own son and other citizens with developmental disabilities in Washington, D.C. She is currently chair of D.C.'s State Council on Developmental Disabilities, as well as serving on the board of the Quality Trust for Individuals with Disabilities and on the Family Support Council of D.C.'s Department on Disability Services. She retired from the federal government’s senior executive service in 2011 and has lived in D.C. since 1978. Find her tweets @DDinWDC!