Access Living Applauds Disability Visibility in Johnson Mayoral Transition Report


July 12, 2023 | by Emma Olson

Disability and accessibility priorities reflected in report from Johnson’s transition team


Atta Zahedi

PR Coordinator

(312) 640-2192

On Thursday, July 6, Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson announced the release of his transition team’s report, A Blueprint for Creating a More Just and Vibrant City for All. The Johnson transition effort, known as Chicago For The People, included a broad range of disability leadership representation on its issue-based subcommittees and the report reflects numerous disability and accessibility priorities.

“Access Living applauds the bold vision for Chicago to be a leader in disability equity,” says Karen Tamley, President and CEO of Access Living, “We are proud to be a part of this important process and look forward to working with Mayor Johnson on implementation.”

Seven Access Living advocacy staff served on the subcommittees, as follows:

Candace Coleman, Racial Justice Organizer

  • Co-Chair, Human Rights, Equity and Inclusion Subcommittee

Christopher Huff, Diversion and Reentry Policy Analyst

  • Public Safety Subcommittee 

Frank Lally, Education Policy Analyst

  • Education Subcommittee 

Iliana Rivera Haven, Housing Organizer

  • Housing Subcommittee

Laura Saltzman, Transportation Policy Analyst

  • Transportation Subcommittee

Michelle García, Manager of Organizing

  • Immigration Subcommittee

Neelam Dhadankar, Healthcare and Home and Community-Based Services Policy Analyst

  • Health and Human Services Subcommittee

In the Report: Disability and Accessibility Priorities

The report includes such recommendations as:

  • The appointment of a Deputy Mayor for People with Disabilities to work with the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) while increasing capacity and funding for MOPD, such as expanding hours for the Personal Assistance program.
  • Proposing citywide collection of disability-related data, with a resulting report on the findings and intersections that affect the community, to inform more accurate policy making. 
  • Work towards full implementation of a Plow the Sidewalks program to ensure sidewalks are accessible throughout the City during winter seasons, including standing up a rapid-response team in the meantime.
  • A proposed broad overhaul of city mental health services including a long-term recommendation to reopen city mental health clinics. This includes expanding the civilian alternative teams of the CARES program for mental health crisis responses and eliminating the co-responder team.
  • Proposing accessible options with new resources to provide shelter and housing programs for long-term Chicagoans, including those with disabilities, new arrivals, and other asylum seekers.
  • Expanding access to accessible and affordable housing for residents with disabilities by accelerating building, and tracking capacity.

Prioritizing Affordable, Accessible Housing

Housing is the number one issue that people with disabilities contact Access Living about. Thus, to fully realize the vision outlined in its report, the Johnson administration should prioritize ensuring that its affordable housing program and shelter system are accessible to people with disabilities. 

This report is an excellent start in treating disability as an integral identity and attribute that impacts everyone in Chicago. We look forward to working with the City of Chicago towards its implementation.

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Established in 1980, Access Living is a center of service, advocacy, and social change for people with disabilities led and run by people with disabilities. We envision a world free from barriers and discrimination – where disability is a respected and natural part of the human experience and people with disabilities are included and valued.