Housing Win Brings Greater Independence
Tony, a man with developmental and physical disabilities, hoped to move to a new, more accessible apartment near his friends and family. However, when he and his guardian applied for a public housing slot, the Housing Authority declined his application.
Noting that a curator (guardian) had signed the document for the client, the Executive Director of the Housing Authority told Tony that he wasn’t operating an assisted living facility! He said they would only accept people who were physically and mentally independent. The housing official went on to say that a physician would have to verify that Tony could live on his own before he could get an apartment.
Tony, who is on the NOW waiver, and lives with 24-hour supports, had his curator contact the Advocacy Center. The attorney who was assigned the case saw this as a textbook example of housing discrimination.
Accordingly, he sent a letter to the housing authority, outlining Tony’s right to live in public housing. Upon receiving the AC attorney’s letter, the Housing Authority official clearly had second thoughts about his position. The next day AC received a call from Tony’s curator to let us know that Tony was on his way to pick up the keys to his new apartment! Tony invited the AC attorney to his housewarming party.
Aveda Institute Welcomes People with Disabilities - Spa is a model for other private businesses
May 27, 2010-In the Fall of 2009, Barbara Keller went to the Aveda Institute in Metairie for a haircut. Although there was a ramp from the parking area to the sidewalk, she was unable to enter the Salon because the front entryway was raised approximately five inches. She asked if there was another entrance and waited outside for a staff to check. No one came back. It was very cold, and eventually, she left.
Ms. Keller was upset. She knew she had rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act and contacted Senator Mary Landrieu for assistance. Sen. Landrieu referred her to the Advocacy Center (AC), an agency that protects the rights of people with disabilities.
Upon receiving the referral from Senator Landrieu’s office, AC Attorney Mark Perron immediately went to work on behalf of Ms. Keller. He contacted the Aveda Institute and helped staff at Aveda understand their obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act and how to correct the barrier.
According to Mr. Perron, the Aveda Institute was cooperative from the beginning; they simply had not known their obligations under the law. As a temporary measure, Aveda made arrangements for Ms. Keller to enter the premises through a rear entrance. Then they hired a contractor to reconstruct the front entrance. A few weeks later, Mr. Perron contacted Aveda for a status report. The doorway was already completely rebuilt and accessible.
Now, Ms. Keller, and all people with disabilities, can enjoy the services of the Aveda Institute.
In June 2010, people with disabilities will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This law was designed, in part, to ensure people with disabilities access to businesses and public buildings. However, people with disabilities continue to struggle to enter and enjoy places of public accommodation.
According to AC Executive Director Lois Simpson: “Our work with the Aveda Institute is a wonderful example of how advocacy organizations like the Advocacy Center and the business community can work together to insure that people like Barbara Keller can participate in community life to the fullest extent possible. We congratulate Ms. Keller for having the courage to pursue her rights; we congratulate the Aveda Institute for responding in such a positive way to its clientele.”
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About the Advocacy Center
The Advocacy Center is a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to assisting people with disabilities and seniors in Louisiana to achieve maximum potential and independence. The Advocacy Center employs 60 people statewide who assist people to achieve employment, education, housing, and health care goals.