Budget Crisis & Prosperity: SAME STORY

root - Posted on 08 March 2003

All across the US – disability services are being drastically cut under the guise of the Budget Crisis

by By Leroy Moore/Illin and Chillin and DAMO

From New Jersey to Cali there has been an ongoing funding crisis for community services and support for people with developmental disabilities. This year’s additional budget cuts and even more massive cuts next year means the entire system could be eliminated. The New Jersey Minorities with Disability Coalition forward DAMO an article in a local newspaper entitled ‘Unkept promises to the state disabled.’ New Jersey’s Governor, McGreey inherited the problem of the underfunded, crowded, aging, understaffed of developmental centers and services. Federal inspectors found a bushel of problems and threaten to cut off $73 million in federal funds to the already starving system. California is in the same situation. The state Bureau Audits reported that California’s obligation to people with developmental disabilities can’t be met because of inadequate funds once again.

The California Legislative Analyst Office projects massive budget shortfall of over $20 Billion; predicts current year deficit at 6 billion. According to Marty Omoto, Legislative Director for United Cerebral Palsy Association, Gray Davis administration is reportedly considering the possibility of closing down a least one of the five state owned Developmental Centers for the purpose of saving. The same reason is now used by the LA County Supervisors who are trying to shut down Rancho Los Amigos Medical Center in Downey saying that it is too costly. The implication of this decision on people with disabilities, especially those of color are drastic. Rancho is dedicated solely to the treatment of disabling condition and is the only source of quality rehabilitation services for southern Californians who are impoverished and on Med-Cal many are Latino and Black. Rancho also treats pediatric conditions, which makes it an important link in the Developmental Disabilities system of care. The Supervisor final vote will be made in Jan.

Although this is drastic times, DAMO and disabled people of color are still not benefiting from the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Individual Disability Education Act of 1975 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. On top of that our neighborhoods have been gentrified leaving a huge number of poor disabled people of color homeless. Many of us can’t afford institutional care or can’t understand and move in the red tap bureaucracy that wraps around developmental centers and other institutional settings leaving us and our family outside in the cold. The National Council on Disability has reported that over 70% of people with disabilities live under the poverty line. However if you add race to the picture it rises to over 90%. In communities of color there are a lack of organizations serving people with disabilities whose fault is this?

I do believe we need to come together in this budget crisis time but we also need to make some fundamental changes to the disability services system. For one we need to look at the funding stream that funnels into traditional disability organizations and leave our new organizations of and for disabled people of color struggling to serve our own community on shoestring budgets. The key problem of the constant lack of funding for our services and implementation of our laws is that there is no radical grassroots activism on a large scale with diverse players inside and outside the traditional disabled movement. Thus giving states the red carpet to walk on our needs. We need an organizing leadership school to train our disabled youth about advocacy on a local and state level to increase new leaders with revolutionary ideas.

The disabled community has never really dealt with race or poverty and the unmet needs of disabled people of color and poor disabled people thus not keeping to the vision of the disability rights movement. So if the states are not keeping their promises to its disabled whose fault is it? Is it time for new leaders? Is it time for local advocates to pull down our leaders in our states and show them reality in our neighborhoods? Is it time for the disability rights movement to splinter into women, race and homosexual sectors to educate our leaders and political leaders. I know one thing it’s time for a change not only because we are in budget crisis because if we don’t let other voices speak than we will continue to be underfunded limiting our growth.

Now there is a call for a statewide advocacy network to do grassroots organizing and advocacy to save our disability services, programs and benefites in the California budget crisis this year and next year. In the early part of December, 02, DAMO will be in Sacramento to make sure the voice of people of color with disabilities and our families are heard. This is only the beginning!

Please contact Marty Omoto
(916) 446-3204 email: martyomoto@crip.com
or DAMO at:
(415) 346-3740 Or (510) 649-8438 or sfdamo@Yahoo.com

Stay tuned for more info!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Leroy F. Moore Jr.
Executive Director of DAMO


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