Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Citizens with Disabilities Committee Welcomes New Members

You can work on a MACCD committee

By Christina Clift
On Wednesday September 21, 2016 the Memphis Advisory Council for Citizens with Disabilities welcomed aboard four new members during its meeting at the Benjamin L. Hooks Library.  Brandy Fox, Lu Conley, Rita Tait, and Gina Brady were appointed to serve on the council by Mayor Strickland.  They filled existing vacancies on the council and will serve for the next two years.  

“They will each bring their own unique skill set and prospective to the council.  We all welcome them aboard and look forward to seeing what great things they will do,” stated Gary Smith Memphis Advisory Council for Citizens with Disabilities (MACCD) Chair.

If you are interested in serving on the MACCD, you must complete a biographical information form and submit it along with your resume for consideration.  Once a vacancy becomes available all applications are reviewed with the final approval being made by the Mayor.  Individuals can also chose to serve on one of our four committees.  They include Disability Awareness, Transportation, Housing, Access, and Recreation, and Education and Employment.  You do not have to be a member of the council to serve on a committee.
For more information about the council please visit our webpage at: 

Benjamin Hooks Library

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Renters’ Rights Day of Action

Memphis demands affordable, accessible and integrated housing

Allison Donald speaks at the rally
Homeless Organizing for Power and Equality (HOPE) assembled an action to promote Renters’ civil rights in the Memphis area and to work to produce real options for homeless individuals. The group rallied at Morris Park just after noon, a block away from the Memphis Housing Authority. HOPE lead a march to the door of the Housing Authority and demanded action by the new administrator.

“People with disabilities that need housing stand with the LGBTQ community, women, and others for housing justice in Memphis,” said Allison Donald of the Memphis Center for Independent Living who spoke at the rally. “We demand affordable, accessible and integrated housing.”

The group secured a meeting with the Memphis Housing Authority Executive Director Marcia Lewis who came out of the office to meet the group. Tony, a HOPE member, read the demands to Director Lewis in front of the MHA offices. HOPE activists held signs and chanted in the background.

“At the rally I learned that there are several people that don’t have access to a homeless shelter,” said Tim Redd of the Memphis Center for Independent Living. “Single mothers,  members of the LGBTQ community  and people with disabilities. I learned that for years HOPE has been advocating for the homeless.”
People marching with signsThe event ended in with the group returning to Morris Park and enjoying a picnic in the shade.

"While attending The Renters Day of Action it dawned on me how much people with and without disabilities are fighting for the same things,” said Bobbie Fields of MCIL. “We all would like to have easy access to the basic needs of life, housing, transportation, food and social events."

Woman hold sign that says We are HOPE

Text of the HOPE letter:

Thursday, Sept. 22nd 2016

To: Marcia Lewis
Executive Director
Memphis Housing Authority
CC. Mayor Jim Strickland

Ms. Lewis,
We hope this letter finds you well and in good health, today members of Homeless Organizing for Power and Equality, H.O.P.E. left his letter and a request for a meeting at your office.

We are a grassroots organization made up exclusively of men and women who are formerly or currently experiencing homelessness in the city of Memphis. Many of our members have or are also tenants at some of Memphis Site Based Section 8 apartment complexes as well and as such we have many concerns that we would like to be able to share with you. We come today as part of a nation wide day of action for renters rights and housing justice with the Homes for All campaign and the Right to The City Alliance and have included the national coalitions list of demands inside. As Memphis has 55 units of affordable housing for every 100 qualified low income applicants, we see housing as the most pressing issue our community For the remaining purposes of this letter we wish to speak to local matters.


A. Memphis has no free shelters for men, less than 70 beds for women experiencing homelessness that are not for domestic violence or drug rehab, we have cases in some shelters where women are sexually harassed and access to shelter is tied to sexual exploitation. We have no shelter for the LGBT community and we have slumlords that economically exploit our people via taking their food stamps, work shelters that fail to pay a living wage and none of our shelters are 100% compliant with the AMERICAS WITH DISABILITIES ACT.

B.We call on the city of Memphis to create a new city run, free shelter for people experiencing homelessness, which is fully compliant with the ADA and provides shelter without religious mandates and is open to all of our people.

C. We call on the city of Memphis to enact an ordinance for minimum standards for all shelters including transparency and accountability to the consumer, ADA compliance new standards for sexual misconduct, standards for staff training and ethics and the creation of an oversight board within the executive branch made up of those currently and formerly unsheltered which will provide oversight into allegations of misconduct within shelters.

D. We call on Mayor Jim Strickland to DELAY the demolition of Foote Homes until after the promised 448 NEW units of HUD subsidized housing replacing Warren and Tulane are online.

E. We call for the adoption of the recommendations of the 2014 the Memphis Multifamily Housing Strategy report commissioned by the City of Memphis. F. We call for the Reserve Code Officer program training to include a section on apartment complexes and that the City work with Tenant Associations to recruit teams of tenants at all of Memphis Site Based Section 8 complexes for training and recruitment into the RCO program.

G. The Beers Van Gogh Peer Center is set to close and residents are being told that they will have to find another place to live. Beers Van Gogh provides housing and services for 10 unsheltered individuals who have disabilities. These people are losing their housing via no fault of their own and we call on the city to take action to rehouse them.

Ms Lewis, we appreciate all your efforts during the situations leading up to the relocations at the Warren and Tulane apartments and believe your experience at HUD in your former position gives you special insight in how systemic reforms can be enacted most effectively.

We seek to have our leadership meet with you at your earliest convenience to discuss these matters and how we can collectively move this city forward. Thank you and have a blessed day.

Toni Whitfield
Homeless Organizing for Power and Equality

Tamara Hendricks
Organizing Coordinator
Mid-South Peace and Justice Center
3573 Southern, Memphis,TN. 38111

Communication in Court

Get the publication that details access to state courts

Today the Justice Department issued a new publication, “Language Access in State Courts,” that provides an overview of the importance of legal requirements for, and accomplishments in, providing language access services in state courts across the country.                                                                                   
Please click here to read the publication and share it with your colleagues.

The report – published by the Civil Rights Division’s Federal Coordination and Compliance Section – covers several key areas related to language access in state courts, including:
The publication also provides different sets of resources, including examples of the Justice Department’s enforcement and technical assistance work along with other materials.
The Civil Rights Division has committed to a Courts Language Access Initiative to focus on the implementation of language access requirements and best practices in courts.  Despite the significant progress that we have achieved, however, the challenge of providing meaningful language access in state courts demands that we continue to modernize, innovate, and keep pace with the evolving demographics of our country.

We hope you find this publication useful as you encounter these challenges in your communities in the months and years ahead.  At the Department of Justice, we look forward to advancing the mission of equal access to state courts by forging dynamic partnerships with all stakeholders, by removing language access barriers, and by celebrating the diversity of our people that has always defined the resiliency and strength of our nation.

2016 Independent Living Team Lifesaver Award

2016 IL Team  Lifesaver  Award

Christina Clift

Christina Clift

Expertise in dealing with difficult individuals and ability to put out fires.

2016 IL Team  Lifesaver  Award

Michael Heinrich

Michael Heinrich
Stepped up to do payroll and accounting. Using valuable ability with dedication to MCIL.

2016 IL Team  Lifesaver  Award

Janice Craven

Janice Craven

Ready for anything. Stepping in to ECF and developing peer mentors. 

2016 IL Team  Lifesaver  Award

Allison Donald

Allison Donald


Willingness to step in to organize our community to reach justice and equality.

2016 IL Team  Lifesaver  Award

Bobbie Fields

Bobbie Fields

Community Ideal Award.
Making the Memphis community into a place we all want to live.

2016 IL Team  Lifesaver  Award

Tim Redd

Timothy Redd

Reinforcement Award. Stepping up to be part of the team.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Citizens demand the return of the 31

Crosstown bus route is critical to Memphis

interior of a MATA bus

By Tim Redd
In 2013 MATA eliminated the 31 Crosstown route. The 31 Crosstown had the third highest ridership of all routes in the system, averaging over 2,500 riders a day in 2011. This route was a lifeline for many living in the historic neighborhoods of North and South Memphis, It was a gateway to jobs, health care, grocery stores and high frequency bus accommodation to both downtown and the suburbs. The 31 connected thousands of school children to public schools in historically African American neighborhoods that now currently suffer from economic distress.

Public transit is a civil right, and Memphis citizens demand reasonable public transportation for low income and minority residents to felicitously address racial and economic iniquity in Memphis.

With the development of The Crosstown Concourse there is major job opportunity and other incentives that are now inaccessible to a large demographic. We urge you to support and sign this petition, demanding the City Council, Mayor Strickland and MATA administration allocate funding to reinstate the 31 Crosstown bus route.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Review of No Pity

Does pity still apply to the post-ADA generation?

Tim Redd
By Tim Redd
According to the U.S. 2010 Census Bureau 1 in 5 million Americans have a disability, which translates to 56.7 million people which is 20% of the population. People with disabilities comprise the largest minority group and yet are still not fully integrated into society. As a result people with disabilities are continuously engaged in a fight against many barriers that prevent complete independence.  Why is that? To understand why you should definitely grab a drink and take a ride with Joseph P. Shapiro who offers an expansive overview of the disability movement.

“No Pity,” shares the remarkable story of advocate Ed

The cover of the book "No Pity" by Joseph Shapiro
Roberts, the back ground of the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the people first ideology, and the emergence of the reinvention of wheelchairs by Marilyn Hamilton  Each one of these events led  to the full integration and liberation of people with disabilities into society.  He does not shy away from nursing home abuse and neglect. He shines the light on the issue of people being stuck in nursing homes against their will and several other topics as well.
As a person with a disability, I learned several things. I found the rich history of the disability movement intriguing.   I must say that I don’t agree with the author’s perspective that society is pitiable toward those with disabilities. My life experience has been different in many ways and I don’t know if I have been met with much pity. My perspective is one that is very different than some described in the book. 

I am a person with a disability pre- and post- ADA. The book beautifully humanizes people with disabilities and honors the true trail blazers who carried the mantle of activism for people with disabilities. “No Pity,” is a woven basket of history, exposure of inequality, and triumph. It shatters the need for pity and supports why activism and advocacy is an important work that continue until barriers are disintegrated and people with disabilities are able to live the lives they want without the influence of bureaucracy and bigotry.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Disability Rights and Fair Housing

Advocate for the access you need

Timothy Redd
By Timothy Redd
There is always something new and exciting happening at MCIL. On Thursday, September 8, 2016. Memphis Area Legal Services (MALS) Phillip Oliphant, the Director of Advocacy and Jean Holbert, staff attorney presented at our Housing Workshop. Memphis Area Legal Services has taken action in many fair housing discrimination issues affecting African Americans.   

There has been an increase in housing discrimination practices against people with disabilities, according to Oliphant. Some of the key areas addressed in this workshop were renters’ and landlord rights.  One area that is a major concern for people with disabilities is, how to properly advocate and document your accessibility needs.   Also, people with disabilities are concerned about what to do when a request for reasonable modification is denied.

As an IL Specialist, I encounter issues with housing on a daily bases. This workshop was designed to address the concerns of renters who often contact MCIL with housing and accessibility concerns.  Mr. Oliphant offered several tips that will help renters avoid common mistakes. 

Some mistakes renters run into are a failure to pay rent on time and not getting a receipt of payment, not keeping copies or dating all correspondence with landlord, not notifying landlord in writing when a repair issue arises, moving into an apartment that is not in move in condition, not reading and keeping a copy of the lease, and not seeking legal advice when facing eviction or other legal issues. 

If you, or someone you know has been the victim of housing discrimination or facing illegal eviction please call the Memphis Fair Housing Center.  Located at 22 North Front Street 901-432-4632.

Renters' Rights

Memphis Area Legal Services and the Memphis Fair Housing Center provide a workshop at MCIL

By Timothy Redd
There is always something new and exciting happening at MCIL. On Thursday, September 8, 2016. Memphis Area Legal Services (MALS) Phillip Oliphant, the Director of Advocacy and Jean Holbert, staff attorney presented at our Housing Workshop.  

Memphis Area Legal Services has taken action in many fair housing discrimination issues affecting African Americans.   There has been an increase in housing discrimination practices against people with disabilities, according to Oliphant. Some of the key areas addressed in this workshop were renters’ versus landlord rights.  Other areas that concern people with disabilities is how to properly advocate and document your accessibility needs and what to do when you request is denied. 

IL Specialists encounter issues with housing on a daily bases. This workshop was designed to address the concerns of renters.  

Mr. Oliphant offered several tips that will help renters avoid some common mistakes.  Some mistakes renters run into may include: failure to pay rent on time and not getting a receipt of payment, not keeping copies or dating all correspondence with landlord, not notifying landlord in writing when a repair issue arises, moving into an apartment that is not in move in condition, not reading and keeping a copy of the lease, and not seeking legal advice when facing eviction or other legal issues.  

If you, or someone you know has been the victim of housing discrimination or facing eviction please call the Memphis Fair Housing Center.  Located at 22 North Front Street 901-432-4632.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

What is an accessible polling site?

Accessibility resources from the federal government

Memphis polling site, sign says: Vote Here

Tennessee polling places need to be accessible to all voters. If you are not sure what access you can expect at each polling site, the federal government has published guidance to help ensure that all voters have access to the polls. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has created a checklist and guide to make sure that local polling places can ensure the right to vote to all Americans. Use the resources from the federal government to check for access at your polling site.


DOJ Releases ADA Checklist for Polling Places

The release discusses polling place accessibility with a focus on the areas of a facility that may be used as a polling place on Election Day; includes a list of the tools election officials will need in order to use the Checklist, some helpful tips on taking measurements and photographs, and a useful list of the most common tools for temporary remedies and the circumstances in which they may be used; and includes the 2016 Checklist.
The full release can be found at:  https://www.ada.gov/votingchecklist.htm

Final Rule Implementing the ADA Amendments Act of 2008

The ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADA Amendments Act) made a number of significant changes to the meaning and interpretation of the ADA definition of "disability" to ensure that definition would be broadly construed and applied without extensive analysis. On July 15, 2016, Attorney General Loretta Lynch signed a Final Rule incorporating the requirements of the ADA Amendments Act into the ADA title II and title III regulations. The Final Rule was published in the Federal Register on August 11, 2016, and takes effect 60 days from publication, on October 11, 2016.

The complete Final Rule can be found at: https://www.ada.gov/regs2016/adaaa.html

Memphis Public Library

Friday, September 2, 2016


Christina Clift
It’s that time of year again for MCIL’s Peer Outreach Program’s annual holiday food drive.  Baskets will be given away between December 20-22, 2016 to needy families in Memphis.  For more information or to make referrals for baskets, please contact Christina Clift at (901) 726-6404 ext. 108 or via e-mail at christina@mcil.org.

Memphis Center for Independent Living Peer Outreach Program


September 1, 2016 – December 15, 2016
Non-perishable donations accepted
Monday - Friday, 9:30am - 4:00pm
1633 Madison Ave, Memphis, TN 38104

Monetary donations also welcomed

For more information:
Contact Christina Clift


Ask Rep. Cohen to support Disability Rights

The Disability Integration Act has been introduced in the House

Allison Donald

By Allison Donald
Organizations within the disability rights movement have been working diligently to build a coalition in support of the Disability Integration Act.  As a result of that hard work the DIA was introduced into the house in July by Republican Congressman Christopher P. Gipson (NY).  This is an important victory because, as people with disabilities we realize how much of a pain staking process it can be to access long term supports and services in our respective communities.  

I accompanied the staff of The Arc of the Mid-South to speak with Congressman Steve Cohen (TN).  We were met with warm smiles and good intentions from our US House representative who is not currently a co-sponsor of the DIA.  Rep. Cohen and his assistant, Mr. Henry listened intently and took notes.  Each person spoke about the lack of affordable accessible integrated housing, subpar paratransit, lack of employment opportunities, and being stuck on waiting list for years.  After listening to the conversation for about 20 minutes Congressman Cohen said:

“I had not been made aware of any legislation that could improve the quality of life for people with disabilities.”

When he made that statement I found an opening to introduce him to the Disability Integration Act (DIA).  He made note of the bill number (HR 5689) and seemed enthusiastic about the bill as all politicians do when they are sitting in the room with their constituents.  I didn’t want to sound like a lobbyist, but I did impress upon him the importance of him acting on behalf of the people in his district that have disabilities and depend on those services so they can live as they choose.

Rep. Cohen is a person with a disability.  He has firsthand knowledge of what it is like, because the Congressman had polio.

As we were leaving the meeting, Congressman Cohen mentioned to one of the staff members of the Arc of the Mid-South that when he was younger he “suffered from polio.”  He continued to say that’s why he has taught his staff to take pictures on a two count instead of three, because he can’t stand that long.

I thought it was pretty harmless until he said: “I do have a brace that I try not to wear at times, because I don’t want to be seen as a person with a disability.”  

I wanted to tell the Congressman that most people cannot take off their disability as if it were an article of clothing.  Tennesseans don’t need empathy we demand action. We asked Rep. Cohen to support the DIA because his constituents demand to participate in the community and not be segregated in expensive institutions. Please support the DIA and ask Rep. Cohen to become a co-sponsor.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

More on the MATAplus Policies and Procedures


MATA Operator
By Bobbie Fields
MATAplus and the Specialized Transportation Advisory Committee met to discuss some of the changes we both would like to see at MATA. STAC members in attendance included, Allison Donald, Rexcey Bowers, June Mangum, Christina Clift, Savannah Morris and Bobbie Fields. MATA representatives were Ms. Glenda Wade, LaBarbara Houston and Mr. Steven Fields. 

The topic of discussion centered on the daily operations of MATA and the buses. Ms. LaBarbara talk about the signing of the ADA, what paratransit is; the dispatcher’s duty, making reservations, applying for MATAplus, no shows, the driver’s duty and the appeal process.

The workshop didn’t focus on any of the management responsibilities or the policies and procedures. All of the material covered in the workshop could be found in the Riders Guide. I was expecting more about the ADA regulations and how they are implementing them into the day to day operation of MATA. 

Ms. LaBarbara supplied DATA from July, to give us an idea of how many people they serve daily and their performance. At the moment there are 7,877 rider’s registered, they made 18,048 trips for the month at a distance of 8.12 miles per trip. The average trip only lasted 32 minutes per person. They were able to transport 1.6 passenger per hour. They also claim to be at a 90 per cent on time performance rate.

Mr. Fields provided one of the new buses for our inspection. I agree that they are roomier and quieter than the other buses but it concerns me about how low they are to the ground. This may cause the buses to scrub the street and speed bumps in some places. The driver may not be able to take the bus on certain parking lots and driveways. There is a problem with the ramps deployment and storing system as well.

MATA has promised to hold more workshop like this one in the hope of becoming more transparent. I hope the next one will be more about the policies and procedures, funding, equipment and maintenance.

Our New Independent Living Specialist

MCIL Welcomes Timothy Redd

Timothy Redd
By Timothy Redd
I am a person with a disability. My whole life has been about defying the odds and not allowing a disability to define me. There are many barriers that exists for people with disabilities that can make it difficult to live independently. I am here to tell you indeed it is possible. I have osteogenesis imperfecta, brittle bone disease. My childhood was characterized with broken bones, surgeries, and intense physical therapy. I don’t know where I would be had I not had supportive parents who encouraged me that I could do anything I wanted to do.

I know all too well the realities that can impede a person with a disability progress towards true independence. I have been separated in a class solely because of my disability. I was stuck in the house not able to go to work due to the lack of reliable transportation. I faced the challenge of finding accessible affordable housing and took legal action against a local apartment community who refused to accommodate my accessibility needs. I navigated the tedious process of applying for disability, been victimized by discrimination, and through it all triumphed over blatant ignorance that comes along with encountering people who don’t understand people with disabilities. These are some of the chief barriers so many in my community rally against daily.

I have overcome all these challenges on my own and achieved my own independence. This has not been a small feat. However, it is the most fulfilling and liberating feeling ever. I would not trade any of what I have dealt with because it has been necessary to make me know my strength. What I have learned in my own journey is how to advocate for myself. I am thrilled to be a part of the Memphis Center for Independent Living and excited to work with others like myself as an independent living specialist. I am here to support people in their own advocacy and offer support through information referrals and by sharing my life experiences to inspire. Currently I am pursuing a BA in Sociology with Ashford University. In my spare time I love to travel, museums, discover new local eateries, shop, and listen to music.

Plan to Achieve Self Support

Learn more about the Employment with the PASS program

Timothy Redd
By Timothy Redd
Here at MCIL we are constantly out in the community staying abreast of information that can help our community.  August 30, 2016, I attended the Social Security Administration Workshop by Dorothy Bailey, Jodie Oakes, and Carolyn Smith, the PASS Specialists serving Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. PASS is SSI work incentive plan that stands for “Plan to Achieve Self Support.”

This workshop focused on how you can receive disability benefits like SSI and SSID and still work. The Social Security Administration has some stipulations that apply to benefits if you work.

Did you know you can earn up to $1,780 per month in addition to  your SSI disability benefit if you are under 22 and regularly attending school? Did you know that there is a trial period of nine months that you can work and receive your benefits? Did you know there is a not a limit on what you can earn during the trial work period?

With a PASS plan you can set aside income or an excess resources to pay for things to needed to reach a work goal. The PASS program can benefit someone who wants to be self-supporting by working. PASS is available for an individual in vocational rehab, ticket to work program, an SSI beneficiary with income other than SSI, and a person that receives SSDI and could become eligible for SSI with a PASS.

The information that I have provided is only the tip of the iceberg. Often times we as people with disabilities do not work because we fear that we will lose our benefits. However, as I have stated, there are ways that we can work.

It’s no secret that living on a fixed income is very difficult. If you are interested in learning more about getting back to work you may contact social security via the web at www.socialsecurity.gov  or call toll-free 1-800-772-1213. To learn more about the PASS Program you can speak directly to a PASS agent by calling 1-800-254-9489