April 2015
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Table of Contents

A Note from Matt

Kids Crusaders Corner

Art and More

Fair Housing -- It's the Law

My Experiences as an Intern

What is a Home?

The Fair Housing Act


The Wallet Card Project

Ticket to Work & WIPA

Your Upward Journey

Litigation: H.O.P.E. v. Charter Realty

A Parcel of Penguins

Matt standing outside of Panther Coffee wearing his penguin shirt.
note A Note from Matt.....
 Every April is Fair Housing Month. In Florida, we have many organizations that DIG is pleased to work with to ensure that the promise and the opportunity of Fair Housing is fulfilled. This month, DIG worked with HOPE, Inc., to obtain a $625,000 settlement against a Section 8 housing provider and ensured accommodations for all tenants with disabilities. We also celebrate our success with our other Florida Fair Housing friends including the Fair Housing Continuum, Fair Housing Center of the Greater Palm Beaches, Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida, and Jacksonville Legal Aid.
julie Kids Crusaders Corner Kids Crusaders Logo

Spring has FINALLY sprung here in upstate New York! Kids Crusaders will be back next month highlighting an amazing organization called I Run 4 Michael. It's a free organization that matches "runners" with "buddies". It helps the runners stay motivated and the buddies get photo updates and email via Facebook. A wonderful bond is often formed between runners and buddies and no 2 stories are ever the same.


I will have sign-up information next month, as the group has over 3,000 "runners" waiting to be assigned a "buddy". 2 pictures of Nick.  The picture on the left is of Nick as a baby and the picture on the right is Nick at 24 years old smiling.


So stay tuned until next month when I share Nicks "runner" with you and how you can sign up to be someone's "buddy" or even how to refer a "buddy".


Be a part of yet another amazing organization that strives to bring people together with unconditional love and support (since no one should ever have to feel isolated on this journey called "Life".)


Until next month...



chrisstein Art and More
Chris is taking this month off.  To stay up-to-date on what Chris is doing follow him on Facebook.

Logo for the US Department of housing and urban development (HUD) Sharon Fair Housing for Persons with Disabilities ... It's the law

By: Sharon Langer 


At Disability Independence Group, we receive many inquiries from tenants or persons who live in condominiums or neighborhood associations about overly intrusive questions about disabilities, and why the person would need an accommodation because of his or her disability. 

The underlying rule is that a person with a disability or a person associated with a person with a disability (such as a child with a disability) has the right to apply for and live in any housing unit regardless of their disability, and are entitled to an accommodation because of their disability.  The only exceptions is where the disability poses a direct threat to the community or the accommodation would be a fundamental alteration to the development.  When a housing provider rejects a tenant with a disability based on something related to their disability, it has violated the law.(click here to read more)

logo for University of Miami Congratulations Sharon Langer
Sharon was filmed for Stories of U .  This is a University of Miami Alumni campaign celebrating the individual and collective experiences of our alumni, their family, and their friends. We seek to connect and inspire our alumni as well as the next generation. Click here to watch the video about Sharon.
If you are interested in volunteering please contact Sharon Langer at Sharon@justdigit.org

Picture of Hui Yu smiling at the beach with the ocean in the background
huiMy Experience as an Intern

By: Hui Yu


When I first came into DIG's office for the interview, I was surprised that I was not stressing at all. I came about 20 minutes early, so I sat at the front couch and explored by reading the picture books for children with disabilities they put there. Ms. Dietz interviewed me in the meeting room with her gentle and comforting manner. Unlike a typical interview where the boss will judge your performance, Ms. Dietz introduced me to a lot about the organization and its programs, and asked about my interests. After the pleasant interview, my journey at DIG began. (click here to read more)


symbol for twitter, a blue square with a white lower case t. Follow us on Twitter: a blue twitter bird in a white square.


Zach Trautenberg in his new apartment that is under construction zach What is a Home?

By: Zachary Trutenberg 


What is a home? A home is a place to call your own. It is a place where you feel safe and are most comfortable. Owning your home can give you a sense of security and the ability to create a sanctuary. It allows you to have control and freedom. If done right a person with a disability should feel the least disabled in their own home. It will take a lot of time and planning, but steps can be taken reduce limitations.


There are lots of great resources that can support a person with a disability who owns their own home. When it comes to taxes you can write off many of the modifications that are made for accessibility. In many counties you can also be exempt from paying property taxes. Organizations like Vocational Rehabilitation can assist with the cost of certain modifications. Blue Badge Homes, http://www.bluebadgehomes.com, is new website that acts as a marketplace for accessible real estate. Chances are you will never find exactly what you want. Just look for something with good bones and potential. The fun is getting to make it exactly the way you want it. Do not be afraid to get messy, get creative, and think way outside the box.


If you like this article and want to read more by Zachary Trautenberg, check out his blog Independent and Accessible Living at http://www.independentaccessibleliving.com.



Rachel Goldstein
rachel The Fair Housing Act

By: Rachel Goldstein


April is Fair Housing Month and the time to celebrate the anniversary of the enactment of the Fair Housing Act. Many of you may be asking- "what exactly is the Fair Housing Act, and what are my fair housing rights?"- so here is a brief overview of the Fair Housing Act and some of the most commonly asked about areas of the federal law.


The Fair Housing Act was enacted on April 11, 1968 as Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act. Since 1966, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. marched in support of families who could not purchase or rent homes in certain residential developments solely on account of their race or national origin. Less than a week following Dr. King's assassination on April 4, 1968, President Lyndon Johnson utilized this national tragedy to urge for the Fair Housing Act's speedy Congressional approval. As Dr. King's name had been closely associated with the fair housing legislation, President Johnson viewed the Act as a fitting memorial to the man's life work, and wished to have the Act passed prior to Dr. King's funeral in Atlanta. (click here to read more)


Logo for Miami Dade County Board of County Commissioners
 We would like to thank Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava, from District 8, for sponsoring a resolution declaring the month of April beginning in April 2015 and each year thereafter as Fair Housing Month in Miami-Dade County.  THANK YOU!!! 




3 arrows that say 1. your say, 2. my say, 3. compromise. mediation Mediation


Building on the first two articles, you are now at mediation. How do you prepare?

First, if you do not have a lawyer, at least speak to one for a consult. While you can learn a lot on the internet about a particular issue, it is not the same as understanding that issue in relation to the law and the court procedures. I believe this will be money well spent.

Next understand all the issues in your case: the good, the bad and the ugly of it. Try to the extent possible to learn all the issues, defenses and arguments that the other side might use against you. In that way you can be prepared. Try to take your emotions out of it. The mediator's job is to listen to you and the other side, talk with you individually, test your issues, and do the same with the other side as well. The mediator will ask questions, probe and ask what you want. Be prepared to negotiate and settle. Have a game plan, and have a fallback position (Plan B). Be patient, and do not be in a rush to get the mediation done. Many times mediations do not settle on the day of the mediation. But you should know that most disputes settle before suit is filed or before trial. (About 85%). Many times the parties settle after the mediation because they have time to think and sift through all the ideas and alternatives that were discussed at mediation. Don't be discouraged.

In my next article we will discuss hiring the lawyer and how to prepare when you have counsel. If you have any questions, please submit them to this newsletter, and I will do my best to respond.

Lester Langer, Retired Circuit Judge

Certified Mediator

blue rectangle with the words -the wallet card- in white. walletcard   The Wallet Card Project

By: Debbie Dietz


You can watch the video on our website at: http://vimeo.com/117175394


You can order your won wallet card for free on our website:  http://www.justdigit.org/wallet-cards/


Just fill out the online form and we will mail the card to you in about 2 weeks.  If you want to customize the card, please add the details in the comments section.


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leslyquin Ticket to work and WIPA: What does that mean?
head shot of Lesly Quin
Many working-aged individuals with disabilities (ages 18-64) are not working. The reasons vary, but for some it's a fear of "If I start working, will my benefits be taken away from me?" The truth is:  No. People with disabilities can work without losing their financial security or health care benefits. There are many programs available that make it possible to still collect benefits while working.

Logo for the fair housing video series.   

Please click 


The cover of the book Your Upward Journey by Patricia Bochi     Head shot of Patricia Bochi. She is in front of a boat that is in the water.
In a nutshell, Your Upward Journey: It Is Easier Than You Think!, is a three-part project (book, self-help seminars and merchandise sale). I intend to promote the book through self-help seminars and sale of merchandise, such as mugs, journals etc.

 The website is:  www.yourupwardjourney.com                                 Facebook and Twitter: Your Upward Journey
A basket of colored chocolate medallions and 3 chocolate hand that say I love you in ASL.

Picture of the outside of a housing development in South Florida.  There are black metal gates surrounding a two story building. litigation Litigation: H.O.P.E. v Charter Realty (update)

By: Matthew Dietz

On April 17, 2015, Housing Opportunities Project for Excellence, Inc. (HOPE) and six residents of two developments in Miami Gardens and Opa-Locka, Florida settled a lawsuit with Charter Management and Miami Property Group, and obtained significant changes in the policies and procedures of their housing development to ensure that all residents are able to easily obtain necessary accommodations for their disabilities, required the construction and maintenance of children-friendly facilities and awarded $650,000 in damages and attorneys' fees.

In Florida, there are approximately 21,000 units that are project-based, privately owned developments that receive Section 8 funding. The average income for the tenants of these units range from $10,000 to slightly over $16,000, and many of these residents are employed or on Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income. In these developments, the tenants pay 30 percent of income for rent. Tenant-paid rents for these types of units average under $300 per month, and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) pays the remaining amounts. This HUD subsidized housing stock serves a large concentration of elderly households and families with children throughout the state of Florida. (click here to read more) 

A colored drawing of an open box with 3 small penguins surrounded by stuffing. penuins 
A Parcel of Penguins
We have great news!  We are going to be able to sell more t-shirts.  Stay tuned for more information. 
If you already have a t-shirt please post a picture of you wearing the t-shirt on our Kids Crusaders Facebook Page.

For more information about DIG and to find out how you can be involved, please call or email our executive director, Debbie Dietz at 305-669-2822 or  debbie@justdigit.org. 

Disability Independence Group, Inc.
Expanding Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities.
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