Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Tribute to Charlie Miller, May 2, 1952 - December 10, 2011

A Tribute to Charlie Miller, May 2, 1952 - December 10, 2011
By Talley Wells, December 14, 2011
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Atlanta disability activist Charlie Miller.  Charlie was a hero to the Atlanta Legal Aid Society's Disability Rights Project because he lived a full life in the community with quadriplegia for over forty years.  Everyone who came to know Charlie liked him.  They also felt the strength of his opinions and his will to live independently. 
In 1970, Charlie became quadriplegic after he stopped at a gas station where he was shot by a man who mistook him for someone else.  From that day forward, Charlie was not able to move below his neck.  Despite this limitation, Charlie spent only short stints in the hospitals and nursing homes during his life.  He spent most of his time in his own home.  
After his injury, Charlie went to college at Georgia Tech and Georgia State.  He received a degree from Georgia State in 1989.
A major part of Charlie’s story is the story of his sister Betty Rackley.  After Charlie’s injury, Ms. Rackley left her life in rural Georgia to live near her brother and provide him with assistance.  For most of his life, Ms. Rackley was there to assist Charlie in dressing, bathing, and all aspects of daily life.  Charlie could be cantankerous with his sister and she could give back to him as much as she took, but their bond was one of extraordinary love and devotion.
With the evolution of technology, Charlie was able to use a mouth stick to control his computer.  He was a frequent e-mailer, he loved to surf the web, and he had a voracious appetite for news and information.  Charlie volunteered with veterans, proof reading applications for medical assistance.  He was friends with all of his neighbors, the local police, and the local fire department.
Charlie was one of the first people to obtain an independent living grant through a pilot program at the Shepherd Center in the 1980s.  His independent living grant ultimately became the Independent Care Waiver Program, which has enabled hundreds of men and women with significant physical disabilities to live in the community.  Charlie was an activist who petitioned local leaders to increase services for people with disabilities.
One of Charlie's great frustrations was that he did not get the full amount of attendant care that he needed, particularly in the last years of his life.  His applications to the state Department of Community Health for more hours due to his advancing age and greater needs were turned down and he lost an appeal that went up to the Georgia Court of Appeals.  Despite not getting all of the assistance he needed, Charlie refused to move into a nursing home and insisted that he would rather die in his home than move into a nursing home.
Charlie died on Saturday, December 10th at the age of 59.  He will be missed.  A funeral will be held for Charlie on Saturday, December 17, 2011 in Montezuma, Georgia.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Obama Administration Announces $749 Million to Fund Housing for Very Low-Income Seniors and Persons With Disabilities

The following press release comes from the Department of Housing and Urban Development:
Obama Administration Announces $749 Million to Fund Housing for Very Low-Income Seniors and Persons With Disabilities
WASHINGTON – Thousands more very low-income senior citizens and persons with disabilities will have access to affordable supportive housing thanks to $749 million in housing assistance announced today by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). These grants will help non-profit organizations produce accessible housing, offer rental assistance, and facilitate supportive services for the elderly and persons with disabilities.  
The grant funding awarded under HUD’s Sections 202 and 811 Supportive Housing programs will kick start construction or major rehabilitation on more than 189 housing developments in 41 different states and Puerto Rico. When complete, more than 4,800 elderly households and persons with disabilities will be affordably housed with access to needed services. Read a detailed summary of each grant.
“The Obama Administration is committed to helping our senior citizens and persons with disabilities find an affordable place to live that is close to needed healthcare services and transportation,” said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan.  “Recent bipartisan changes to these two supportive housing programs will allow us to better serve some of our more vulnerable populations who would otherwise be struggling to find a safe and decent home of their own.”
Enacted early this year with strong bipartisan support, the Frank Melville Supportive Housing Investment Act and the Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Act provided needed enhancements and reforms to both programs. Nonprofit grant recipients will now receive federal assistance that is better connected to state and local health care investments, allowing greater numbers of vulnerable elderly and disabled individuals to access the housing they need even more quickly.
Section 202 Capital Advances will provide $545 million nationwide to 97 projects in 42 States and Puerto. In addition to funding the construction, acquisition, and rehabilitation of multifamily developments, HUD’s Section 202 program will also provide $54 million in rental assistance so that residents only pay 30 percent of their adjusted incomes. Section 202 provides very low-income elderly persons 62 years of age or older with the opportunity to live independently in an environment that provides support services to meet their unique needs (see attached funding chart).
Section 811 Capital Advances will provide $137 million nationwide to assist very low-income persons with disabilities through 92 projects in 35 states. An additional $12.6 million will be available for project rental assistance contracts (see attached funding chart).  Most of the housing supported through the Section 811 Program will be newly constructed, typically small apartment buildings, group homes for three to four persons, or condominium units that are integrated into the larger community. Residents will pay 30 percent of their adjusted income for rent and the federal government will pay the rest.
HUD’s Section 811 program provides housing for households with one or more very low-income individuals with a disability. Under this program at least one person must be 18 years or older and have a physical or developmental disability or chronic mental illness. The program provides persons with disabilities the opportunity to live independently in their communities by increasing the supply of rental housing with the availability of supportive services.
HUD provides these funds to non-profit organizations in two forms:
  * Capital Advances. This is funding that covers the cost of developing, acquiring, or rehabilitating the development. Repayment is not required as long as the housing remains available for occupancy by very low-income elderly persons for at least 40 years for (under Section 202) or very low-income persons with disabilities (under Section 811).

  * Project Rental Assistance Contracts. This is funding that goes to each development to cover the difference between the residents’ contributions toward rent and the cost of operating the project.
Residents must be “very low income” with household incomes less than 50 percent of their median for that area. However, most households that receive Section 811 or Section 202 assistance earn less than 30 percent of the median for their area. Generally, this means that a one-person household will have an annual income of about $13,500.
You may view a table with the grant awards at the following link:
HUD’s mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes: utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and  transform the way HUD does business. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at and

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Georgia Recovery Initiative Announcement
Community Listening Sessions
When:      November 30, 2011 6:00 – 8:00 PM
Where:    Decatur Public Library 215 Sycamore Street Decatur, GA 30030

The Georgia Recovery Initiative Steering Committee will be holding the first of a series of Community Listening Sessions on envisioning a Recovery Oriented System of Services and Supports in Behavioral Health and Addictive Diseases. We want to hear from you how you envision recovery and how a system that embodies and practices recovery would look.
The Georgia Recovery Initiative Steering Committee consists of Advocates, Consumers, Providers, and members of the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities and the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse. Members of the GRI steering Committee will be present to listen and also to answer any questions about this initiative. The GRI is working on developing a strategy for designing, transforming, and implementing a Recovery Oriented System of Behavioral Health services and supports. This work recognizes and affirms the central role of the voices of those who use and depend on the services provided by DBHDD. The consumer voice, the voice of lived experience is the keystone to effective and comprehensive system change.
Please come on November 30 so that your voice can be listened to as we begin this work of system transformation.
The Community Listening Session is free and open to the public; we would appreciate your registering in advance if you plan to attend.
Call 800-297-6146 or 404-687-9487 if you plan attend
Refreshments will be provided.
You may also call Mark Baker, CPS, Director of Advocacy, DBHDD
at 404-803-1097 with further questions.

Friday, October 28, 2011

-Eric Neudel and Alison Gilkey, Director and Producers of Life Worth Living, a historical documentary about the Disability Rights Movement, will attending the screening at Shepherd on November 8th, Noon-1, (1-1:30, Q&A), 7th Floor Auditorium.

-Movie treats and drinks will be served.

-RSVP Requested (thanks to those of you who already have)


-NY Times Review:

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Documentary on Atlanta Legal Aid Tonight: Includes story of Olmstead

Tonight! Documentary on Atlanta Legal Aid Society, including story of Olmstead v. L.C.


ONE LAW FOR ALL, co-produced by DAVID DUKE and his SON, JOHN, tells the story of the Atlanta Legal Aid Society. Founded in 1924 and one of the oldest legal services agencies in the country, Atlanta legal aid offers civil legal services to low-income persons.

You will enjoy this thirty minute documentary: Thursday, October 27 at 8:30.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

OCR Findings Olmstead Findings Letter Sent to Georgia DCH

Georgia Department of Community Health
In a letter of findings to the Georgia Department of Community Health, OCR found the entity failed to assist the complainant in moving out of a nursing home and back into the community as required by the Olmstead decision. In Olmstead, the Supreme Court held that the ADA requires public entities to provide community-based services to persons with disabilities when such services are appropriate; the affected persons do not oppose community-based treatment; and community-based services can be reasonably accommodated. This complainant has lived in a nursing home for 17 years and has been very clear about her desire to move to the community. She has been determined by her doctor to be appropriate for community placement and the state has made no showing that such services cannot be reasonably accommodated.
People who believe that an entity receiving federal financial assistance has discriminated against them (or someone else) on the basis of disability, may file a complaint with OCR at:
Summaries of each of these enforcement efforts can be found on OCR’s website: For more information on community living and Olmstead please visit:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Powerful Documentary Chronicles the History of America’s Disability Rights Movement

Lives Worth Living Premieres on the PBS Series Independent Lens on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 10 PM

Powerful Documentary Chronicles the History of America’s Disability Rights Movement

Lives Worth Living Trailer-->

While there are close to 50 million Americans living with disabilities, Lives Worth Living is the first television history of their decades-long struggle for equal rights. Produced and directed by Eric Neudel, Lives Worth Living is a window into a world inhabited by people with an unwavering determination to live their lives like everyone else, and a look back into a past when millions of Americans lived without access to schools, apartment buildings, and public transportation – a way of life unimaginable today. Lives Worth Living premieres on the Emmy® Award-winning PBS series Independent Lens, on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 10 PM (check local listings). Lives Worth Living traces the development of the disability rights movement from its beginning following World War II, when thousands of disabled veterans returned home, through its burgeoning in the 1960s and 1970s, when it began to adopt the tactics of other social movements. Told through interviews with the movement’s pioneers, legislators, and others, Lives Worth Living explores how Americans with a wide variety of disabilities — including the blind, deaf, mentally, and physically challenged — banded together to change public perception and policy. Through demonstrations and legislative battles, the disability rights community finally secured equal civil rights with the 1990 passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, one of the most transformative pieces of civil rights legislation in American history.
To learn more about the film, and the issues involved, visit the film’s companion website at Get detailed information on the film, watch preview clips, read an interview with the filmmaker, and explore the subject in depth with links and resources. The site also features a Talkback section, where viewers can share their ideas and opinions.

Georgia Ranks at Bottom for services and supports for older adults and people with physical disabilities

A State Scorecard on Long-Term Services and Supports for Older Adults, People with Physical Disabilities, and Family Caregivers

Monday, October 10, 2011

FaithWorks 2011 Mental Health Conference November 17th

FaithWorks 2011 Mental Health Conference on Thursday, November 17 from 9am-1pm (registration starts at 8:30am) at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Atlanta. 

The conference emphasizes the uniquely important role that faith and spirituality play in treatment for those with mental and addictive illness. The conference is also approved for 4 CE units by the GA Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, the Licensed Professional Counselors Association of GA, and GA Addiction Counselors Association (toward certification).

Monday, September 26, 2011

Independent Reviewer Report to be Filed by October 7, 2011

According to the court file, Independent Reviewer, Elizabeth Jones, is to file her report on the first fiscal year of the Settlement Agreement by October 7, 2011. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Contacts for ACT Teams

Click on this Link for the Contact Information (as of July 2011) for Georgia ACT Teams

DOJ Technical Assistance Guide for Olmstead

Statement of the Department of Justice on Enforcement of the Integration Mandate of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Olmstead v. L.C.

In the years since the Supreme Court’s decision in Olmstead v. L.C., 527 U.S. 581 (1999), the goal of the integration mandate in title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act – to provide individuals with disabilities opportunities to live their lives like individuals without disabilities – has yet to be fully realized.  Some state and local governments have begun providing more integrated community alternatives to individuals in or at risk of segregation in institutions or other segregated settings.  Yet many people who could and want to live, work, and receive services in integrated settings are still waiting for the promise of Olmstead to be fulfilled.
In 2009, on the tenth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Olmstead, President Obama launched “The Year of Community Living” and directed federal agencies to vigorously enforce the civil rights of Americans with disabilities.  Since then, the Department of Justice has made enforcement of Olmstead a top priority.  As we commemorate the 12th anniversary of the Olmstead decision, the Department of Justice reaffirms its commitment to vindicate the right of individuals with disabilities to live integrated lives under the ADA and Olmstead.  To assist individuals in understanding their rights under title II of the ADA and its integration mandate, and to assist state and local governments in complying with the ADA, the Department of Justice has created this technical assistance guide.

Click here for FULL WRITTEN Department of Justice Technical Assistance Guide

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

DBHDD July 21 Press Release on Housing in DOJ Settlement

Georgia Adds More Supported Housing for People With Mental Illness

Thursday, July 21, 2011 Contact: Tom Wilson

ATLANTA - More than a hundred people with mental illness in Georgia began receiving supported housing in the past year thanks to a push by the state to build more community-based services. The Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) provided 118 people in 31 counties with help finding and affording housing, making it possible for them to live independently in the community and avoid hospitalization or homelessness. The agency gave an average $475 in rental assistance and an average $2,300 in bridge funding to participants, the latter helping pay for deposits, furniture, and other necessities of starting up a household. By July 1, 2015, the state has committed to helping at least 2,000 people with mental illness find and afford housing.

“Our goal is to help people with mental illness remain independent in the community and sustain their own recoveries,” said DBHDD Commissioner Frank Shelp, MD, MPH. “It’s nearly impossible to do that when you don’t have a stable place to live. By providing supported housing, we’re helping people with mental illness avoid ending up in hospitals, in jails, or on the street.”

Last year, Georgia committed to placing 100 people with mental illness in supported housing by July 1, 2011. It exceeded that goal by 18% and, with another 164 people already in the process of looking for housing, is well on its way to reaching next year’s goal of assisting 500 people total. DBHDD’s focus is currently on helping those people with severe and persistent mental illness that might otherwise have to resort to a state psychiatric hospital or other public services.

Georgia Counties with new supported housing participants in FY 2011:
Appling, Baldwin, Barrow, Bartow, Bibb, Chatham, Clarke, Cobb, Dekalb, Dougherty, Floyd, Fulton, Hall, Henry, Houston, Lamar, Lowndes, Muscogee, Newton, Pickens, Polk, Richmond, Spalding, Sumter, Thomas, Troup, Upson, Walker, Walton, White, Worth.