$2 million increase for Access to Home

Independent Perspective 1750 with Ericka Miller on how a $2 million increase for the Access to Home program in the recently passed NYS budget is a big win.

Host:  Welcome to Independent Perspective, a public affairs presentation of Western New York Independent Living (WNYIL). Our guest today is Ericka Miller, Systems Advocate with Independent Living of Niagara County (ILNC). And I'm your host, Ernie Churchwell. Welcome to the program, Ericka.

Guest:  It’s a pleasure Ernie.

Host:  As people who have been following this program on a regular basis probably know the Centers for Independent Living around New York State have been trying to get important things for consumers with disabilities, including in the somewhat delayed New York state official budget that was finally passed. And I believe you have news on at least one of our priorities having to do with Access to Home, what can you tell us about that?

Guest:  Well to start, Access to Home gets financial assistance to low- and moderate-income persons with disabilities to be able to make their residential units accessible. So, we're talking ramps and grab bars, extending doorways, those kinds of things. And the news that we have is that we did get the amount that we had asked for and that is so exciting. We were successful in getting a $2 million increase to Access to Home and that is going to be a huge step forward to getting people to stay in the homes. That’s the name of the game, right.

Host:  Indeed. And when you're talking about doing home modifications, whether it's adding ramps or lifts or enlarging doorways or other such things those are not things that come cheap. So, any assistance that we can line up with the state is certainly a plus. I guess it's probably a little too soon since the budget has just passed to see what the upshot of this increase is but I imagine that you have some fond hopes for it.

Guest:  Absolutely. I think that anything that keeps an individual in their home that they are comfortable in and might have fond memories in is a step in the right direction.

Host:  And something that our listeners should keep in mind, being able to live independently in one's home means not having to be forced into long term care facility like a nursing home, which tends to cost the taxpayer many times more than just the home modifications would. Do you have any idea what the current rate of average cost of a nursing home care for one year for an individual is?

Guest:  I can tell you that across the country, it's on average, over $100,000. It is incredibly expensive to house someone in a nursing facility or a similar institution. Whereas if you were at home with supports and services, it is proven it is significantly less expensive. Because I mean, think about it, you're only using so many attendants versing versus paying for the staff of an entire facility.

Host:  Indeed so. I guess I've been in this game a long time because I can remember when we thought $25,000 a year was a pretty steep price tag for nursing home care, but $100,000 that really does make a big dent. I imagine if somebody is interested in getting a home modification, would they go directly to you? Or would they talk to our intake department to get connected with an independent living specialist?

Guest:  As far as the Access to Home program goes I would go with the intake person and they would be able to connect them with not only that program but many of the self, wonderful programs that would be able to help them stay at home.

Host:  Terrific. Okay, can people best reach you?

Guest:  The best way to reach me is by email and that is emiller@wnyil.org

Host:  Thanks so much for being with us Ericka. You’ve been listening to Independent Perspective, a public affairs presentation of WNYIL. Our guest has been Ericka Miller, Systems Advocate with ILNC and I've been your host, Ernie Churchwell.