On March 6, 2019, the Coalition for Institutionalized Aged and Disabled (CIAD) and Schuyler Center came together for their annual Adult Home Resident “Speak Out” Day. Over 50 residents from twelve different homes in the five boroughs traveled to Albany under the leadership of CIAD Coalition Director Geoff Lieberman and the support of the Schuyler Center to advocate for their quality of life.

What did they do?

The residents traveled a long distance to advocate and educate the legislators who represent them, including Speaker Carl E. Heastie. But this day was not only about advocacy. The residents also joined together to tell their stories to regulatory agencies, and share best practices of organizing resident councils, which is an important aspect of CIAD’s work

What were the issues?

Among many issues outlined in the CIAD issue brief, the residents came to discuss the need to increase funding to their Personal Needs Allowance (PNA).  Low-income residents living on New York’s State Supplement Program (SSP) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) receive only $204 a week. That’s not enough. Residents spend a substantial amount of their PNA on essentials such as food, as many find the meals offered by the facilities inedible or not meeting their nutritional needs. The residents came to the Capitol to ask their legislators to increase the PNA from $204 to $300 a month. This small financial commitment will have a huge impact on the lives of thousands of residents across the state

They also asked that legislators support funding for adult home advocacy. CIAD and Mobilization for Justice (MFJ) have helped residents assert their rights through organizing, training and advocacy in their homes, in the courts, and in Albany. As decisions are made about moving residents to communities from adult homes, it is important that the voices of residents are heard and respected, so they can gain the independence they deserve.

In addition, the residents asked the Assemblymembers and Senators they met with to support an increase in fines and oversight when facilities violate the law. All too often, facilities avoid penalties by eventually correcting violations. This incentivizes poor services, repeat violations and systemic problems. That is why residents asked their legislators to add teeth to existing regulations by increasing the New York State Health Department’s ability to fine facilities to better protect residents and keep them safe.

What was the end result?

Legislators were educated by the real experts of the adult home system—the residents themselves. And though it was a long and arduous day, the residents came away energized and engaged to continue “speaking out” for themselves.   

If you would like more information, please visit the CIAD website