As
the COVID-19 pandemic sickens and kills thousands of Americans in every corner
of our country, The Arc is alarmed that the needs of people with disabilities
and the undervalued workforce supporting them are still not adequately
addressed.

Today, Congress passed new emergency COVID-19 relief legislation that replenishes funding for federal loan programs for small businesses and provides additional funding for hospitals and federal agencies. The measure benefits the economy and helps support businesses and organizations that provide services to people with disabilities, including state and local chapters of The Arc. However, the bipartisan deal falls short of meeting the urgent needs of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), who are dying from COVID-19 and face grave danger.

In
the next COVID-19 response package, it is crucial that Congress creates grants
for states to expand home and community-based services (HCBS) to help keep people with
I/DD in their homes and communities – and out of institutions and other
dangerous congregate settings, where people are dying in greater numbers due to
exposure to the virus.  If Congress doesn’t
provide this critical funding immediately, even more preventable deaths may
occur. By investing in HCBS, we can also pay the workforce that supports people
with I/DD to live as independently as possible in communities. Our workforce is
risking its personal health and safety to provide supports to people with I/DD,
often without adequate personal protective equipment.

“While
the COVID-19 legislation passed by Congress this week provides short-term
relief for our economy, it fails to address the looming, long-term crisis facing
people with disabilities, direct support professionals, and families. The Arc
and our persistent grassroots advocates urge Congress to remember the needs of
all Americans –not just some – by including state grants to expand HCBS
in the next
coronavirus relief package. We fear this pandemic could undo years of progress
for people with disabilities, and we can’t let that happen. Sustaining and strengthening
access to supports for a life in the community is one of our best defenses against
this relentless virus,” said Peter Berns, CEO, The Arc.

The post COVID-19 Small Business Bill: Temporary Relief to Service Providers in Need; But Disability Community Needs More in Package 4 appeared first on The Arc.

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