On Monday afternoon, September 15th, police arrested several people from the disability advocacy organization ADAPT at the Arlington campaign office of Republican presidential candidate John McCain when they protested the campaign's refusal to look at the ADAPT platform for affordable, accessible housing. The day's events are described on the ADAPT website:
After setting up a tent city at HUD headquarters just after 4 a.m., ADAPT sent 100 activists to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) offices in Washington, D.C., and another hundred to a Sen. John McCain campaign office in Arlington, VA. All three entities were presented with the ADAPT platform for affordable, accessible housing.
"The DNC was cordial, and they accepted our housing platform, as well as our invitation to visit 'DUH City,' which is HUD spelled backwards," said octogenarian Barb Toomer, ADAPT organizer from Utah. "The career HUD staff that met with ADAPT told our people they had no authority to make decisions and had to wait for the administration or administrative appointees to make any decisions, so the meeting felt like a waste of time. Sen. John McCain's campaign staff not only refused to even look at our housing platform, they had eleven of us arrested by police who caused injuries to at least one arrestee."
ADAPT's housing platform points to America's longstanding and still growing crisis in the availability of affordable, accessible integrated housing. Many people with disabilities live on benefits that are only 18% of the median income, a full 25% below the poverty level, and an amount that is less than the national average rent for a studio/efficiency apartment.
Sen. McCain opposes a Senate bill designed to change a system that disabled advocates say pushes them to spend the rest of their lives in an institution...
"We don't want no houses like he has. Seven houses. We don't need anything fancy. We're asking for an apartment," said protestor Cassie James.
The activists say Medicaid WILL pay for their care in a nursing home. But WON'T pay for them to have a health aide at home. "All we want to do is level the playing field so people will have a choice," said activist Rick Knight.
Sen. McCain says government living assistance for the disabled should NOT mean "perpetual confinement to an institution." But he also says the bill supported by the activists is too expensive. "The Community Choice Act is not a piece of legislation that I support," Sen. McCain told a Denver forum.
Bobby Coward says that's not good enough. He's a Persian Gulf war vet left a quadriplegic by a car accident. "If I don't get an attendant, I can't get out of the house, so I'm laying in bed."
Shame on you, John McCain, for playing up your claim to fame as a wounded war hero, while not even bothering to look at the needs of injured veterans and others with disabilities for housing assistance and services!
Update, Sept. 20: Here's a powerful new video that illustrates the McCain/Palin ticket's attitudes toward people with disabilities.