Home Remodeling Resource Guide for People with Disabilities

“For individuals and veterans living with disabilities or special needs, or seniors aging in place, the fact that much of the world outside is not built to accommodate their needs magnifies the value of a comfortable home. . .

“Unfortunately, without access to the right resources, creating a comfortable home can be an expensive task.”

Home remodel guideFor more from this remodeling guide prepared by Expertise.com, go here.


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Jean Stewart: Coalition to Defend East Bay Forests

Jean Stewart, marching with "Animals Against Extinction," in the Oakland Climate March. Feb. 2015

Jean Stewart, marching with “Animals Against
Extinction,” in the Oakland Climate March. Feb. 2015

Listen (28 min)

On August 28, 2015, environmentalists stood in front of the Berkeley office of the Sierra Club and burned their membership cards. Today we spend the half hour with one of the organizers of that action — disability rights and environmental activist, Jean Stewart.  Jean is part of a disability organization, CUIDO, which is deeply involved in the fight against a $4.65 million dollar FEMA Plan for the de-forestation of the Berkeley and Oakland hills.  The Sierra Club card burning is part of that work.

FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has approved a plan to cut between two thousand and 450 thousand trees in the East Bay hills of coastal California.  Two thousand or 450 thousand? The difference in those numbers reflects the gap between the two sides of this issue, a harsh fight* with grassroots activists and environmentalists on both sides.

Jean Stewart speaks about the herbicides that caused her disability, her anguish at the ongoing planetary destruction and how it comes home in this local struggle.

Owl nesting in eucalyptus, courtesy urbanwildness.com

Owl nesting in eucalyptus, courtesy urbanwildness.com

The affected parks are Anthony Chabot, Claremont Canyon, the Huckleberry Preserve, Lake Chabot, Leona Canyon, Miller/Knox Shoreline, Redwood Park, the Sibley Preserve, Sobrante Ridge, Tilden Park, and Wildcat Canyon.

For more information and to contact the organizers:
Death of a Million Trees
Save East Bay Hills

CUIDO, Communities United in Defense of Olmstead

A KPFA news report, (8-14-15) with both sides of this debate.

Some resources from those in favor of the FEMA plan:

Claremont Canyon Blog- Eucalyptus Q & A

This program was produced and hosted by Adrienne Lauby.  Audio editing by Sheela Gunn-Cushman.

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KPFA News Report on FEMA Project 8-14-15

KPFA News Report by Lucy Kang, Friday, 8/14/15.  13:09

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Ms Theriault Hacks Her Workspace at Berkeley’s CIL

Alana at her new work station

Alana at her new work station

By Alana Theriault

It’s been fun figuring out how to make my station at work accessible for me [at the Berkeley Center for Independent Living.]  It’s especially helpful that my employer was willing to help with anything I needed, and I was encouraged to use my creativity.

The Process:

– My supervisor and I chose a desk that would allow me to look at both my client and my computer when meeting, and he assigned me a laptop that could be placed where I need it.

– I gave my supervisor the adaptive software I needed (Click-N-Type Virtual Keyboard with Word Prediction – Free download from Lake Software), and I brought in my own trackball (Logitech Trackman Marble Mouse – $19.99).

– My personal assistant (PA) and I measured the space.

– I hired a friend to buy materials and assemble a small raised platform so I can reach my trackball, cellphone, business cards, and remote switches that activate my office phone. It is 18″ wide, 10″ deep, and 3 1/2″ tall. He also cut a square plank to place under my laptop to raise it up 3/4″. ($50 materials and labor) My PA painted these wooden pieces red.

– My supervisor gave me a wireless headset that CIL already had (Sennheiser OfficeRunner Wireless Headset with Microphone – $329.95).

multi line phone– I went to an Open Resource consultation (Free for 1/2 hour) at the Center for Accessible Technology to discuss hardware and software options for being able to dial the phone without lifting the handset or pressing buttons on the keypad. They contacted the building staff and asked them to meet with me about programming the phone.

– I met with the building’s phone system consultant to describe the modifications I planned to make. He modified the plan with the phone company so that dialing “0” reached a live operator, and he programmed one soft key to dial “9-0”.

Close up of jacks into multi-line phone

Close up of jacks into multi-line phone

– I hired a friend to install 2 input jacks ($105 for labor). He gave me a shopping list and I bought materials at my favorite electronics store, Al Lasher’s Electronics ($19.99 for materials). — One jack is connected to the phone’s headset button. When pressed it activates the headset without needing to lift the handset. The headset must be already turned on, and the wireless headset model listed above does indeed stay turned on and has a long battery life.

The other jack is connected to one of the programmable soft keys. This is programmed to dial “9” for an outside line, and then “0” for the operator. — He then built a small box holding 2 micro switches that require a very light touch. These switches are wired to 2 plugs that are plugged into the input jacks on the phone. Commercial micro light switches cost $80; these were about $8 each if you make them yourself.hand on trackball

Now, when my PA drops me off at work, they turn on my wireless headset and then place it on my head. To make a call, I click one micro switch to get a dial tone through the headset, and click the other micro switch to dial the operator. The operator answers, I say, “This is a manual call,” and the the operator dials the call for me.

Thank you to everyone who helped me! Paul Cortopassi, Ingrid Jeffers, Thomas Gregory, Jennifer McDonald-Peltier, Dmitri Belser, Melissa Romero , Chaim Finkelman, Luis Baptista, Joe Carrow, and Art Middleton. Employment offers another layer to independence, and interdependence is key!

First published on Facebook, August 14, 2015
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Sprint Kayaking – Dorian Taylor

Listen (23 min)

Paralympic hopeful, Dorian Taylor has heard a cacophony of NO in life but Dorian Taylor is a force of YES.

Dorian Taylor

Dorian Taylor

Dorian speaks with humor and finesse about competitive kayaking and life on the spectrum — both gender and autism.

Dorian Taylor was injured in a brutal police tasing, raised in and out of psychiatric institutions, and been unable to access either social services or diagnostic health providers.
Dorian lives with lupus, PTSD, partial paralysis, and a thoracic syrinx that goes from the T3 to the T11 of the spinal cord.

Dorian spends many long hours with her Facebook friends and the water of beautiful Lake Washington in Seattle.

On Shore


A unique life.  A unique goal.  An athlete to cheer for.  Dorian Taylor heads for the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro.

You can reach Dorian on Facebook here.

Dorian is interviewed by Shelley Berman.

Wheelchair only

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Is ‘Affordable Housing’ Affordable?

Listen (29 min)

Affordable housing is a human rightWho doesn’t support the concept of “Affordable Housing?”  As rents climb to ever-ascending heights and ever more people are pushed from their housing, ‘affordable housing’ is like motherhood and apple pie for activists and elected officials alike. 

But do affordable housing projects discriminate against people with disabilities who are low income or have SSI as their only income?  Today, Lynda Carson lays out the harsh reality in conversation with Eddie Ytuarte.

They will be joined by Christine Webster, a stroke survivor and tenant organizer from Healdsburg, California.  Mass evictions of 21 Latino tenants by a racist property group recently spurred calls for rent control in that city.

Autistic housingLynda Carson frequently observes and critiques the non-profit housing industry in the East Bay area of California using the moniker Tenants Rule.  She believes “affordable” housing is often a misnomer because its income standards are too high for people with disabilities who receive SSI and other very low income people.  Aside from raising questions about who “affordable” housing actually houses, Carson has written about the dwindling of Section 8 housing and local elected officials who love to use their votes to enrich big-time housing developers.

Lynda Carson writes for Street Spirit, the S.F. Bay View, East Bay Express, Beyond Chron. and many others.   She can be reached at tenantsrule@yahoo.com 

Christine Webster is an activist, tenant and Section 8 user in Healdsburg, California.

Original Air Date 7-17-15
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Disability Activists at the U.S. Social Forum

LISTEN (29 min)

Graphic from U.S. Social Forum Logo

Graphic from U.S. Social Forum Logo

Last week, the U.S. Social Forum took place simultaneously in San Jose, California; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Jackson, Mississippi; and Tijuana, Mexico. 

We bring you a mock tour through the San Jose event, where over 500 activists converged to attend more than 150 progressive workshops, sing songs with Occupella , and make connections to “Grow the Future.”

As we go, we’ll talk to a few of the disability activists who attended, including Mark Romoser, Sam Rubin, Terri Carter, Edith Halberg and Ellen Rollins.

Sam Rubin

Sam Rubin

Sam Rubin is a member of the Freedom Socialist Party who organizes at S.F. State with a student group called Rebel Voices.

Terri Carter lives with a spinal cord injury and left arm amputation.  She is working toward a degree in architectural drawing.

Edith Halberg works with the Peace and Freedom Party and the Gray Panthers.  She also sings with the The Labor Heritage/Rockin’ Solidarity Chorus.

Mark Romoser, Community Advocate, SVILC

Mark Romoser, Community Advocate, SVILC

Mark Romoser is the Community Advocate at the Silicon Valley Independent Living Center in San Jose.

Ellen Rollins represents SEIU National People with Disabilities Caucus, Local 521, and Regional Local 1021.  She is also the National CEO for the National Association for Juneteenth Lineage and an IHSS homecare worker.

The US Social Forum:  Enlightening, overwhelming, empowering, chaotic, frustrating, educational and. . . just the kind of fun we live for.

Produced & hosted by Adrienne Lauby.  Audio editing by Sheela Gunn Cushman.

 Air Date: 7-3-15
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Will Rent Control Come To Your City?

Listen 29 min

NYC rent Freeze programAs renters across Central and Northern California continue to receive rent increases of $200-500. a month, low-income people who often have disabilities are the hardest hit.   Raising the rent, as they skirt or ignore laws meant to protect tenants, is the corporate landlord way.

But, some tenants are getting organized.

In California, the cities of Richmond and Santa Rosa, pressured by grassroots organizations, recently put rent control on their agenda for the first time in decades.  Other cities are considering renter protection ordinances.

SOS HousingDoyle Saylor from the Alameda Renters Coalition,  James Vann of the Oakland Tenants Union & Robin Earth from the Center for Independent Living in Berkeley join Eddie Ytuarte to talk about the suffering, discuss solutions, and take a look inside the movements that may resuscitate local rent control ordinances.

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Sheela’s Housing Saga

Listen  29 min.

Sheela’s Affordable Housing List of Websites for Northern & Central California

Chicago Advocates with the Disability Rights Coalition for Housing

Chicago Advocates with the Disability Rights Coalition for Housing

Sixteen months!  That’s right…

It took our producer Sheela Gunn-Cushman one year and four months of focused almost full-time work to find an affordable place to live in the high-rent east bay of Northern California.

Her story is a mythic saga of slogging through swamps, fording rushing streams and (here and there) stumbling across a golden ring. 

House keyIt’s a story many of us on fixed incomes know only too well — as we struggle to find a place we can call home.

Produced by Sheela Gunn-Cushman and Shelley Berman.  Edited by Shelley Berman.

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Sheela’s Housing Listings – Websites

This list of housing resources began in 2009, and was last updated at 8:53 PM 6/4/2015. Share freely and use fully. HAPPY HUNTING!

My “go to” listHouse graphic

CHOICES-Search Results

ABHOW (Senior) Results – CA

Berkeley Housing Authority – City of Berkeley, CA


East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC) Homes

Eden Housing – Now Leasing

Mercy Housing CA Affordable California Housing Solutions

Rental Opportunities BRIDGE Housing

Resources for Community Development – Creating and Preserving Affordable Housing

Satellite Affordable Housing Associates (SAHA)

San Francisco Bay Area Archives – The John Stewart Company

Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency (SHRA) Housing Choice Voucher

Multi-Family Resource Site – Affordable Housing Listing

Shra Application Web Form

Go Section 8.

Less-often-used housing listing resourcesHouse key

Mutual Housing California – 25 years of building communities

SHRA First Time Homebuyer

East Bay Housing Organizations – Looking for Housing


SMCHousingSearch.org Find Rental Properties in California

San Fransisco Mayor’s Office of Housing

Livermore Housing Authority – Home


Capitol Area Development Agency (of Sacramento) CADA Apartments

Developments & Projects First Community Housing

CPRM Realty

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) search result for Alameda County

USA Properties Fund Properties by City

Contra Costa Interfaith Housing

Christian Church Homes (Senior)

California – C S I

Income and Area Median Income Guidelines

Chicago Advocates with the Disability Rights Coalition for Housing

Chicago Advocates with the Disability Rights Coalition for Housing

FY 2015 Income Limits Documentation System HUD USER

Housing Authority of the County of Alameda – income limits

Credit resources

Free Credit Report from Equafax/TransUnion & Free Credit Score.

Free credit report from Experian.

Build Credit With Every Bill You Pay – PRBC – Payment Reporting Builds Credit

Miscellaneous Useful Stuff

Neighbor Works Home Ownership Center Sacramento

The (Oakland) Unity Council

Stephen Beard Real Estate Services


–Compiled by Sheela Gunn-Cushman

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