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Oversight Hearing on Accessibility in Public Housing

September 4, 2019

We would like to thank the New York City Council’s Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities, and Addiction and Committee on Public Housing for holding this important oversight hearing on accessibility in the public housing system. 

We testify today to highlight the need for the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) to better address the accessibility needs of young people with disabilities and their families living in public housing. We believe there is a direct relationship with the physical living conditions in the 2300+ NYCHA-operated buildings in New York City with the extent to which young people with disabilities living there attend school, are employed, and able to participate equitably in their communities. These factors directly impact positive educational outcomes and a person’s ability to make a living wage both of which can permanently break the cycle of poverty. 

INCLUDEnyc (formerly Resources for Children with Special Needs) has worked with hundreds of thousands of individuals since our founding 36 years ago, helping them navigate the complex special education service and support systems, so that young people with disabilities can be included in all aspects of New York City life.

Over the years, we have helped many young people with disabilities living in public housing who receive special education supports and services, some of whom also use wheelchairs and/or have involved medical conditions, navigate getting to and from school when their building elevators don’t work, sometimes for months or years at a time. Recently, one of our families, who is living in the Edenwald Houses in the Bronx, obtained a 1:1 transportation paraprofessional for their 13-year-old daughter who has been chronically absent from school for years because she uses a wheelchair and lives in a building where the elevator often does not work. 

Students’ education should not be dependent on their parents’ ability to carry them and their wheelchair up and down five flights of stairs twice a day. Nor should a person’s ability to hold a job or the basic human right to leave one’s apartment depend on a functioning elevator.

In addition, we have assisted many low and moderate income families in understanding how public housing works for people with disabilities, including the complex application and waiting list processes, and the availability and likelihood of obtaining one of the 7,368 (out of 173,762) NYCHA retrofitted apartments for families with persons who are mobility impaired.

Thank you for taking the time to consider these important matters. We look forward to working with you to improve equity and access for all young people with disabilities living in New York City public housing. 


Barbara A. Glassman

Executive Director