Friday, February 24, 2017

SAVE MY CARE!

Save My Care Bus Tour in Memphis this Monday

Save My Care bus

The Save My Care Bus Tour is a two-month, cross-country tour focused on telling the stories of the more than 30 million Americans who will lose their health care under Congress’ dangerous repeal plan. 

So far, the bus has held 31 rallies in 14 states and traveled 7,457 miles telling the stories of the more than 30 million Americans who will lose their health care under Congress’ dangerous repeal plan.

Memphis Stop: February 27, 2017 12:00pm-2:00pm

Navy Park South Second Street and GE Patterson
Memphis, TN 38103


SAVEMYCARE.ORG

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Waiting Game



Waiting is what every MATAplus rider must be good at


By Timothy Redd
Timothy Redd
There is nothing worse than having to wait for ride that is running late. If you are a MATAplus rider, I am sure you know how this game goes. You wait to speak to someone after holding on because the phone system keeps going to voicemail, waiting on the bus that’s well pass the 30 minute pickup window to get you to your destination, and waiting for MATA to straighten up and offer consistent good service. Does that sound like what you are waiting for?

One of my favorite John Mayer Songs is “Waiting for the World to Change,” one of my favorite lyrics is “it’s hard to beat the system when we are standing at a distance.” For many people with disabilities MATAplus is the only transportation option available that’s affordable or accessible and yet our community is detached from upward mobility because of a broken system that does not run efficiently. That is how I feel. 

In order to elevate us from an impoverished community, we need a job and a reliable way to get there. Since using this service it’s amazing that I actually still have a job considering the number of times I have been late all because I was waiting on the bus.

Every morning I spring out of bed at 6:20 AM to get ready for work.  The bus is supposed to pick me up at 7:30 AM so that I can be at work for my scheduled 9 o’clock punch in. Monday’s February 6th episode took the cake. At 8:30 AM I called dispatch to get an ETA for my bus, the MATA agent responded that the bus would arrive at 10 or 11 because several drivers called in sick. The agent said nothing was available in my area. 
Graph shows MATAplus ridership growing from about 1500 in 2013 to about 3000 in 2015


I was shocked when I heard this. I don’t know if the drivers were recovering from a drunken episode of Sunday’s Super Bowl 51 shocking upset between the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots. Regardless of the reason, MATA’s service was unacceptable. 

I called my boss to let him know and we were both baffled at the answer I got from dispatch. I decided to just call Lyft to get to work, it’s a great service to me but not for long distances. My morning commute to work cost me twenty two bucks. I have filed a complaint about this incident with MATAplus and have yet to speak to anyone on a resolution to this issue.

The issues that exist with this company are nothing new, and the ridership has been waiting for true change that works well for too long. Since Ron Garrison is no longer in command, I am hopeful that a competent person can give our community a service that will serve us well, but as with most things related to MATAplus, the waiting game continues. 

How long have you been playing the waiting game? Would you like to demand change, share your story. Tell us here at MCIL your MATAplus stories.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This piece was written on February 6, the Monday following the Super Bowl. Timothy Redd made a complaint that day. Now, three weeks later (Feb. 21), Timothy has not had any response from MATA about his complaint.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing

Timothy ReddBy Timothy Redd
Monday, January 30th I attended an Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) training session hosted by The City of Memphis. The presenters at this event were Jeffrey May and Michael D Mitchell.   The workshop covered the history of laws of policies relevant to fair housing, what the AFFH is, and why it is important. The training also covered the AFFH rule, what the rule requires and compliance with the rule. There was also a session that covered how to access data to see key demographics of the city as well as nationwide.


What is the AFFH Rule and why is it important?


Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing is a legal requirement that federal agencies and federal grantees further the purposes of the Fair Housing Act. This obligation to affirmatively further fair housing has been in the Fair Housing Act since 1968 (for further information see Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, 42 U.S.C. 3608 and Executive Order 12892). 


AFFH means "taking meaningful actions, in addition to combating discrimination, that will overcome patterns of segregation and foster inclusive communities free from barriers that restrict access to opportunity based on protected characteristics. Specifically, affirmatively furthering fair housing means taking meaningful actions that, taken together, address significant disparities in housing needs and in access to opportunity, replacing segregated living patterns with truly integrated and balanced living patterns, transforming racially and ethnically concentrated areas of poverty into areas of opportunity, and fostering and maintaining compliance with civil rights and fair housing laws. The duty to affirmatively further fair housing extends to all of a program participant's activities and programs relating to housing and urban development."

The Fair Housing Act of 1965 and FHA Amendments Act of 1988 covers seven classes at a federal level: race, color, religion, national origin, familial status, gender, and disability.  From what I learned this rule is about choice and empowering people to live where they want and no longer being limited because of income to certain areas.

 

Why does this matter to the Disability Community?


Segregation Affects the Disability Community

  • People with all kinds of disabilities deserve access to the same range of housing choices as people without disabilities.
  • Government resources have created segregated settings for people with disabilities and limited housing choice
  • Housing and social policies have forced people with disabilities to live with family and not independently
  • Costly and segregated institutional settings
  • Discrimination in Housing against People with Disabilities is Rampant; 44% of housing discrimination cases filed with National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) members in 2011 involved discrimination against people with disabilities. (NFHA 2012 Fair Housing Trends report)
    • Racial – about 20% of cases
    • Familial status-13% of cases
    • National origin and gender – about 5% of cases each

How will this rule change that?


Housing resources are very limited in this city and very scarce for people with disabilities who need low-income housing. Many subsidized housing projects have waiting lists and age requirements. For people who are not yet 62 years old, finding housing this is a huge challenge. This new rule being implemented requires the recipients to do an analysis on the community. The analysis should show things like where people with disabilities live and what type of disabilities people have. The analysis will allow access to poverty troubled areas and race demographics through data mapping tools. 


When new housing is developed analysis reports have to be submitted to HUD and meet the criteria for approval. This requirement will give more housing options countywide because the focus now is about inclusiveness and the eradication of poverty which will create vital living spaces.
To learn more about The Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing and to see the data maps as well check out https://www.hudexchange.info/programs/affh/
 

My Thoughts


The time for true integrated affordable accessible housing is long overdue. The seven federally protected classes have been segregated for far too long. I think if the rules of the program are enforced it will help so many people and make our city better. 


I also think that when different community engagement opportunities are happening, it is critical that we as the community of people with disabilities attend to have our say and have a seat at the table. At this training workshop, I was the only person with a noticeable disability. I would implore us all to make an effort to be more visible in our communities and make sure we are speaking up and speaking out.  Advocacy is powerful!

HIV Prevention and PrEP

Get tested and know your status.

Tim Redd

By Timothy Redd
I firmly believe in being aware of issues that impact our city and sharing vital information that can really help someone. This week I want to tell you about PrEP.  PrEP stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis. It’s a medicine called Truvada, a pill taken once daily that will protect you protect you from getting HIV if you have unprotected sex or share needles with someone who is HIV-positive. It is encouraged by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) if you are at high risk for contracting HIV, PrEP should be in your prevention tool box.

HIV is the virus that causes AIDS, it’s found in semen, vaginal, rectal fluids, and breast milk. HIV over time damages the body’s immune system which eventually leads to the body not being able to fight off diseases. There is no cure for HIV but today treatments can help people stay healthy.

Why am I talking about HIV and PrEP you may ask? It’s because Memphis is a high-risk city for new HIV infection cases. According to the latest statistics provided by AIDSVu, presented by the Center for AIDS Research at Emory University (CFAR) and Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University in partnership with Gilead Sciences, Inc:

Prevalence

Number of people living with diagnosed HIV in 2013: 6,569 
  • 69% of people living with diagnosed HIV in 2013 were men, and 
  • 31% were women.
  • 82% of people living with diagnosed HIV in 2013 were black, 
  • 2% Hispanic or Latino, and 
  • 13% white.

New Diagnoses

Number of new HIV diagnoses in 2014: 281
  • 73% of people newly diagnosed with HIV between 2010 and 2014 were men, and 
  • 27% were women.
  • 83% of people newly diagnosed with HIV between 2010 and 2014 were black, 
  • 3% Hispanic or Latino, and 
  • 9% white.

Mortality


Number of deaths of people with diagnosed HIV in 2013: 132


Last week I had the pleasure of sitting down and speaking with Donna Blackard, PreP Coordinator with Project Pride about the work she is doing in our community. Project Pride is a part of the Le Bonheur HIV Network, a grant program funded by the CDC.  Project Pride focuses on the gay males and trans-of-color community between the ages of 13- 24 and links clients to PrEP. 

Project Pride is a two component program that does individual and event free HIV testing and provides HIV prevention and PrEP education. Navigators guide clients through the process of testing, patient assistance programs, and lab work necessary to be prescribed. PrEP is available at absolutely at no cost to you whether you have insurance or not. 


“Memphis ranks number 6 in the nation for newly acquired HIV,” said Donna Blackard. “People are still dying. I’ve lost a lot of good friends and I’m eager to see that Memphis is not on the list.”

If you would like to know more please contact Donna Blackard at 901-287-4764.

I would like to encourage you to get tested and know your status. To learn more about Memphis HIV statistics check out https://aidsvu.org/local-statistics/ and to learn more about HIV and ways to protect yourself https://www.greaterthan.org.



Ron Garrison of MATA

Monday, February 6, 2017

Community should have role in hiring MATA's CEO

Chair of Citizens for Better Service publishes letter in the Commercial Appeal


By Johnnie Mosley
I am the first to admit that I am stunned by the dark news about Ron Garrison, former CEO of MATA ("Prostitution sting nets 42," Jan. 28 article). But I am calling upon our elected officials to hold MATA accountable for improving public transportation for all citizens. As chairman of Citizens For Better Service, I continue to hear from bus riders who are sick and tired of MATA cutting bus routes, forcing them to spend up to four hours a day on buses, lose their jobs, and walk numerous blocks to catch a bus.

I also continue to hear from bus riders who are frustrated over MATA turning its back on their concerns.  As we turn our attention toward the future, I hope that this situation will force the MATA board to rethink it hiring process as it relates to hiring a new CEO.

View of the inside of a MATA bus

Long before Mr. Garrison was hired by the MATA in 2014, I felt that the community should have been allowed to participate in the hiring of the CEO. I believe that the board should have allowed citizens to talk to the finalists in community forums.  I am convinced that if the MATA board wants the community to support MATA, the MATA board should allow the community to play a vital role in picking the next transit leader who believes in the citizens of Memphis.


Johnnie Mosley, chairman, Citizens For Better Service, Memphis

Ron Garrison of MATA

Friday, February 3, 2017

What's New with MATAplus?

MATAplus and safety


By Bobbie Fields
I use MATAplus on a frequent basis and I often wonder how safe I am. Do you know how many times I have seen drivers and individuals working on the buses to get them running? Just in the past two weeks, there were two incidents where a

Bobbie Fields
bus blew a tire while going down the street.  

I've seen MATA work on ramps, lifts, seats and restraints to get the buses back in service. With all I have seen, it makes me wonder how the taxes for our transportation services are spent and if MATA is effectively looking after our safety on the bus. MATA patrons are literally putting our lives on the line every day.


MATAplus continues to promise us that they have our best interests at heart. They promise to provide us with safe, clean buses and trained drivers. I am still waiting for them to fulfill that promise.


As a rider of MATAplus, you can call and ask about their maintenance schedule for the buses. You can ask how often the tires are checked, you may ask about regular tune-ups and oil changes. I know life is a gamble already but I would like to see more evidence that safety is important to MATA.

Ron Garrison of MATA