By Raya Al JadirA disabled campaigner has secured a place to volunteer at this summer’s Rio Olympics but is struggling to raise £17, 000 to pay for herself and the four personal assistants (PAs) she will need to take with her on the trip.Mary Laver, who uses a powered wheelchair and needs 22 hours of care a day, was a leading campaigner against the closure of the Independent Living Fund (ILF), which shut last year, and secured media coverage when she took her PAs with her to volunteer at the London 2012 games.For seven days during London 2012, the former RAF servicewoman used ILF to pay for personal assistants to support her as she volunteered as a games-maker in the Olympic village, staying in a camp-site in south-west London every night because she couldn’t afford a hotel.She now hopes to repeat that experience in Rio this summer, after being selected to be an official volunteer in the transport section.She applied for the role last summer, and subsequently took a series of tests that examined her knowledge of the games of English, and included an interview via Skype, before being informed late last November that her application had been successful.Although she is not sure yet what her precise role would be, she hopes to be “an active member of the volunteer group” at the Rio Olympics.She said: “Without volunteers, there are no Olympic Games.”Most of the cost comes from two first-class air tickets – for herself and one PA, which she needs because of her access and support requirements – and three second-class air tickets for her other PAs, although two have offered to contribute by paying for their own tickets.Laver can only afford to contribute £1,000 of her own money.She plans to take both her electric and manual wheelchairs, and has booked accommodation at a wheelchair-friendly hostel in Rio.Laver said she does not believe she would face any access problems in Rio, because she has been assured by organisers that disabled volunteers would be “very welcome” and that the infrastructure and transport would be accessible.But she now needs to raise funds to pay for her trip.As a volunteer, she will not receive any financial support from Olympic or Paralympic organisations in Britain, and will only receive a travel pass, uniform and food from the Rio organisers.To raise funds, she has set up a gofundme page to raise the £17,400 she needs, which she says would enable her to live out her motto “life without limits”, but has so far raised only £1,175.She has also approached many UK sports organisations for financial support, but has been turned down by all of them.She has set herself a deadline of 1 February to reach the halfway stage of her funding quest.Among her efforts to persuade the government to reverse its decision to close ILF, she wrote to the prime minister, travelled from her home near Newcastle-upon-Tyne to the Conservative party conference in 2014 to lobby fellow party members, and attended protests in London.Last year, she rode her powered wheelchair the 14 miles from the House of Commons to the constituency of work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith in Chingford, east London, to mark his 61st birthday by delivering a “very special birthday card”, in another ILF protest.She also holds the record for the fastest journey from Land’s End to John O’Groats in a powerchair – just over 24 days – which she set in 2009, raising more than £1,000 for the Royal British Legion.Picture: Mary Laver being interviewed in 2013 about the impact of ILF on her life, for a short film by False Economy, the Daily Mirror and Moore Lavan Films
Work and pensions secretary Amber Rudd has announced measures that should mean fewer disabled people are forced to undergo unnecessary benefit reassessments.Sarah Newton, the minister for disabled people, announced in June that new claimants of personal independence payment (PIP) with the “most severe, lifelong conditions” who were awarded the highest level of support and whose needs were not expected to decrease would only receive a “light touch” review of their award every 10 years.Rudd (pictured) said this week that this measure would be extended to existing PIP claimants.The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said this was to “ensure that for disabled people who need extra support, the system is designed to be as seamless as possible while minimising any unnecessary stress or bureaucracy”.Guidance for PIP case managers on which new PIP claimants will qualify for the “light touch” review and an “ongoing” award was published quietly by DWP in August.The guidance does not mention any particular conditions.Instead, it says such an award should be made if “the claimant’s restrictions on Daily Living and/or Mobility are stable and unlikely to change significantly or they have very high levels of needs which will only deteriorate” or if “the claimant is awarded enhanced/enhanced and their needs are not going to improve or would only deteriorate”.Newton’s announcement in June was seen by some as another move back towards disability living allowance (DLA), the benefit PIP is replacing for working-age claimants.One of the key reasons that ministers gave for introducing PIP was that DLA supposedly allowed claimants to secure unchecked “welfare for life” because of the lack of repeat assessments.Esther McVey, who quit as work and pensions secretary last month, made the claim herself five years ago in a bid to justify the introduction of PIP and proposed cuts of 20 per cent.But Jenny Morris, who helped write the Labour government’s Improving the Life Chances of Disabled People white paper, said in June that people were placed on lifetime DLA awards “for very good reasons” and all the government had done by introducing PIP and its frequent reassessments in 2013 was to “create extra costs for themselves”.She said that the “light touch” announcement showed the government had spent years and wasted hundreds of millions of pounds on its PIP reforms, while exposing people to assessments that were “very oppressive and upsetting”.This week, one disabled people’s organisation, Buckinghamshire Disability Service (BuDS), suggested that Rudd’s announcement should be treated “very cautiously”.BuDS said that 18 per cent of PIP claimants already receive lifetime awards, and it added: “The chances are that this announcement will make very little difference for most people.”A DWP spokeswoman said: “The guidance change has not been in place long enough for us to provide estimates of how many people may gain.” A note from the editor:Please consider making a voluntary financial contribution to support the work of DNS and allow it to continue producing independent, carefully-researched news stories that focus on the lives and rights of disabled people and their user-led organisations. Please do not contribute if you cannot afford to do so, and please note that DNS is not a charity. It is run and owned by disabled journalist John Pring and has been from its launch in April 2009. Thank you for anything you can do to support the work of DNS…
The preliminary design boasts multiple outdoor areas, including one on the roof. Laundry will be housed on the roof, as will a community garden and a lounge area. The entire ground-floor commercial space is slated to be reserved for arts groups, 115 bike storage spaces and two offices for social workers.“Can we apply at MEDA?” one person wanted to know.The Mission Economic Development Agency and Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation are collaborating on the construction of the property. MEDA will remain the owner and TNDC will manage the property, which will also provide social services to tenants.The lottery for placement at 681 Florida, however, will not open for several years. Construction is expected to begin in January 2019, and leasing a year later.“Is there any way to speed up the building process?” asked one person, one of the few who posed their questions in English. MEDA’s Feliciano Vera from the nonprofit’s real estate team said they were trying to accelerate the timeline, which is in the pre-construction phase.Environmental approvals have already been secured and the nonprofit is trying to get its community outreach done ahead of schedule. Permits and financing, however, still need to be finalized.The developers, for their part, had hoped to solicit some design input — rather than a flood of applications. Dairo Romero, another member of MEDA’s real estate team, stressed the importance of giving the community a sense of involvement in the development process.A few suggestions were conveyed through sticky notes left on a poster soliciting input, and in a question-and-answer session. One person asked to shift the unit balance toward more three-bedroom units, to accommodate larger families. Rogelio Gula, a principal at Mithun Architects, which is designing the building, said after the meeting that three-bedroom units are particularly tricky to accommodate; two-bedrooms are a little easier. “That unit mix is slightly flexible, but the three-bedrooms are the most challenging,” he said. Otherwise, feedback ranged from a few questions about parking (there will be none) to flooring materials due to a child’s asthma (a wood-like flooring, no carpet) to someone who wrote a note suggesting adding a grill to the roof deck. For the crowd of around 100 people who filled the auditorium of the Mission Language and Vocational School Wednesday night to hear the plans for an 130-unit affordable housing building, it couldn’t arrive fast enough. This kind of community input meeting, where developers pitch their proposed building, usually draws small groups of immediate neighbors who critique the height of the buildings, design and amenities (parking is a popular one). But at the meeting for 681 Florida St., most of the largely Spanish-speaking crowd wanted to know only one thing: how to get housing. The proposal promises units ranging from studios to three-bedrooms that will be affordable to those making up to, or less than, 60 percent of the Area Median Income — about $62,000 a year for a family of three, and $48,400 for an individual. Tags: Affordable Housing • development • housing Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0% 0%
Tags: Affordable Housing • SROs Share this: FacebookTwitterRedditemail,0% Ronen received so many questions about affordable housing projects in the Mission that she decided on the spot to schedule a public hearing about the status of those projects — a majority of which are at a standstill. Peter Rauch, who’s lived at the All Star Hotel for six years, asked about the status of two fully-affordable projects: one 143-unit development at 1990 Folsom St. and another 127-unit building at 2060 Folsom St. “Are those moving forward?” he said. Ronen said she believed the projects had received their entitlements, but hadn’t yet found the right financing, which she said was slowing them down. “This issue of how long it’s taking to build these project is frustrating for all of us,” Ronen said, noting that speeding up the process is something her office is “looking into.” At present, the Mission District has seven fully affordable projects in the pipeline that comprise some 770 affordable units, including the two on Folsom Street. However, none of those projects have broken ground and will not begin leasing in the near future. Many have been delayed by neighbors, red tape or lack of financing. “Are these buildings going to be affordable for people who are on (general assistance), who are on (Supplemental Security Income)?” asked Gaylord Dixon, a Mission Hotel resident. “I don’t know if you have any power over that, but I’m hoping they can do that for us.” Ronen explained that the fully affordable projects are reserved for low-income people, and 20 percent of those projects’ units are reserved for formerly homeless individuals. As the residents asked questions about housing, it was clear they were anxious to move on from SRO living — once considered “transitional housing” but now, by most accounts, treated as a permanent situation for those in need. “A majority of SRO tenants are saying, ‘I want my own bathroom, my own kitchen, and I want to live independently’ — and I don’t see that happening anytime soon,” said Diana Martinez of the Mission SRO Collaborative. “The participants and leaders in our program tell us they have been on the list for 10 years or more, trying to secure an affordable apartment — and this is with the help of case management,” she added. All of the Mission Hotel’s 245 rooms are for formerly homeless residents. In the Mission, there are eight SRO hotels run by nonprofits — most of which are dedicated to formerly homeless or at-risk populations — representing around 709 units, including the Mission Hotel. “A lot of the people who live in these buildings are disgruntled,” Rauch said after the meeting. “They’ve lost a lot of faith, and they think this is where they’re going to live for the rest of their lives.” Indeed, one woman told Ronen that she has given up on applying for low-income housing because she never gets chosen, no matter how many times she applies. For one application, she said, she has been waiting nine years. “I sign up for it, qualify for it, they put me on a list and never call,” the woman said. “I don’t believe it anymore.” “If you’ve lost faith in the system, I completely understand,” Ronen replied. “If you’re living in the Mission, though, I’d ask you to keep trying.” Ronen explained that the so-called “neighborhood preference law” had passed recently, in late 2015, and that if the woman lived in the Mission, she would have a higher chance of occupying one of the units being built here. In fact, under the law, every SRO tenant in the Mission would have a fair crack at living in one of the fully-affordable buildings slated for the neighborhood. The question, again, comes down to: when?Yet, just like low-income apartments, SRO spots are highly coveted. Many homeless people in shelters yearn for supportive housing, but end up languishing for years on waiting lists. “Most people (in shelters) are on the list for a very long time,” Martinez said. “Years and years and years.” Subscribe to Mission Local’s daily newsletter 0% Email Address Residents of the Mission’s SROs are often dismissed by the neighborhood as a nuisance, and many would agree they are treated that way — “like fourth-class people,” in the words of one resident. But on Thursday, during a meeting with District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen, they challenged that notion. “We’re citizens like everyone else,” said Mervyn Greene, a Mission Hotel resident who organized the event.And, like everyone else, they voiced concerns about homelessness, pedestrian safety and public sanitation. One question, however, came up repeatedly: Where is the affordable housing, and is it for us? “We see huge projects coming up that are excluding us,” said Greene, who also works with the Central City SRO Collaborative. “The number of people who move from SROs into those units is minimal, because the process is so difficult.”
Subscribe to Mission Local’s daily newsletter Penny Schoner, 84, lived happily in the one-bedroom apartment she’d had since the 1980s. That changed in 2012, when Veritas Investments bought her apartment building. Suddenly, she said, management ignored her requests for repairs — including one to remove the wasp’s nest that sat outside her bedroom window.“They were in my hair and my clothing, and I got stung a bunch of times,” Schoner said.Schoner is one of 68 residents — including 11 senior citizens — that filed a lawsuit on October 11, 2018, against Veritas, one of the largest housing companies in San Francisco.The tenants, who reside in 30 of the company’s empire of 240 buildings across the city, cited a long list of issues, including harassment, emotional distress, and failure to provide housing services. The judge has yet to set a date for the case, but a case management conference is set for March 13, 2019. This will allow both parties to schedule a date for the trial, unless settlements are made before it’s brought to a judge.Veritas, the tenants’ charge, wants them out, and Schoner knows why. She lives in a rent-controlled building at 3663 20th St. and pays $462 a month for her one-bedroom apartment. Tenants who now move into Vertias’ newly renovated studio apartments, in the same neighborhood as Schoner, pay approximately $2,500 a month.“I’m on very limited income and I can’t go anywhere else,” said Schoner as she sat in her living room, rubbing her leg. “I’m old now, I have leg problems, but I’m gonna go up and down those stairs as long as I possibly can and I’m not expecting to leave here in the next 10 years.”Want local news to continue? Support it! We depend on you.Schoner said problems arose soon after Veritas bought the three-story building in 2012. Unable to get a response from them for two years, she finally made a written request, asking them to repair some of her apartment’s issues.“Our records show several letters or contacts regarding requests Ms. Schoner made since 2014, and we responded at each point,” said Ron Heckmann, a spokesperson for Veritas.Schoner disagrees.Luckily, the wasps “never came back.” Heckmann said he thought the bee issue was “thought to be taken care of by window repairs.”Still, Schoner said, some issues remain, including a request to replace a bedroom window and provide screens for the bedroom and bathroom. Other issues she repaired herself: broken bathroom tiles and a wall in bathroom that caved in during a neighbor’s renovations.Penny Schoner has lived in her apartment since the 1980s. She says trouble started in 2012, when Veritas bought the building. Photo by Tsanavi Spoonhunter.She showed me a loose casing on her bedroom window and the absence of screens. Looking through her screenless window, she pointed to the other windows in a newer tenant’s apartment. Those have been upgraded. She wants hers to be as tight.“A steady stream of air comes in here, so I just dress for it: I wear leg warmers, and sweatshirt and a hat,” said Schoner. “And heaters do very little good, if anything, because I have one heater here (in the living room) and then I have an electric heater. There’s no heater in the bedroom.”Heckmann, on the other hand, said that the window was repaired in 2017. “But it appears some issues remain, which we’re addressing.”Schoner is far from a complainer who expects someone to take care of her. She grew up on a ranch in Sacramento Valley and can easily make her own renovations. She built the sink, kitchen counter and a shelved pantry in her apartment.She’s also made some of her own furniture pieces, including the bed frame and closet. “I’ve always wanted sliding doors,” she said, smiling as she slid her closet doors back and forth.She does not even mind Veritas renovating apartments for the newer tenants. The problem is when those renovations directly impact her.In the midst of her neighbor’s renovations in apartment 3663A, some of Schoner’s bathroom tiles broke. In the letter, she requested that the landlord set new tiles. She waited one month and finally gave up.“I went out and bought the tile and the wood and fixed it myself,” Schoner said. “I didn’t even mention it, I just did it. I didn’t want any attention on it because for me to do repairs would be damaging their building.”Then, the bathroom wall caved in on her. The landlord responded by giving her a key to a bathroom located in a separate building. While she waited for the repairs to be done, she spent six weeks using the bathroom in another building.Next, during a demolition in another neighbor’s apartment, workers punctured her living room wall. In her letter to Veritas, she said the wall only needed some new plaster, not much, and that she didn’t have any on hand.During the time reporting this piece, Hechmann followed up with Schoner on several issues. He also cited a statement from Violation Radar, an independent firm that compiles data on tenant complaints and notifies property management groups. According to them, Veritas is one of the most, if not the most, proactive property management company in San Francisco in dealing with complaints and violations. Although Violation Radar doesn’t have the data to share, the statement, they said, is based on the city’s data for tracking complaints.“Many of our residents make changes or improvements to their interiors, and such was the case with Ms. Schoner, as her letter indicated, so we were not aware of lingering concerns about the walls she patched or the replaced tiles,” said Heckmann.But repairs were not the only issue.Veritas issued a three-day notice to pay a month’s worth of rent on May 15, 2017. Schoner said she had sent a check for that month, but had to go to the bank to request proof of payment. Since then, she said, she makes payments in person.“I was scared,” said Schoner. “[It was] unsettling,” Schoners said, even though her familiarity with the law should have made her more confident. “They woke me up at night, 11 at night I got a call from Veritas, or Greentree.”Like Schoner, all of the senior plaintiffs are citing emotional distress. As self-sufficient as she is, the harassment got to her. Email Address
WITH the Super League home opener against Warrington just a few weeks away – how are you getting to the Stobart Stadium?Saints Bus Services take the hassle out of parking and leave you free to enjoy the pre and post match fun this season.For just £40 you could travel to Widnes from St Helens for ALL of Saints fixtures in 2011.That’s just £3 per game for regular season fixtures, with Challenge Cup and playoff ties thrown in free.AND all under 16-year-old season ticket holders can travel free.Saints have teamed up with Arriva to provide all this and more.The prepaid service will pick up and terminate at Hall Street in St Helens – with the service beginning three hours before kickoff, running every half hour, and ending 45 minutes before kickoff.After the final whistle, the service will operate from The Stobart Stadium in Widnes (dropping off on Caudwell Road) back to St Helens town centre with the last bus leaving an hour after the final whistle – giving fans plenty of time to enjoy their post match celebrations.The bus season ticket will also permit travel on any Arriva bus service from a journey start point within the borough on any scheduled service to Hall Street and return.If you want a FREE JUNIOR BUS TICKET, you will need to head to Saints Town Centre outlet to pick yours up.The service operates under Arriva’s terms and conditions and is subject to demand. No cash will be taken on the Saints Arriva Bus Service.For match-to-match travel, then Saints’ Official Transport Provider, Hattons Travel, is providing a service from Eccleston to St Helens and through to Lea Green before travelling to the Stobart Stadium.Costing £4, the service will travel from the Griffin in Eccleston to Birchley Street and then on to Lea Green in Sutton.Parking is readily available at these venues and is free after 3pm on a Friday – please state your preferred pick up point when booking.To purchase your Bus Season Tickets, or ‘per match’ tickets, head into the Saints Superstore in St Helens Town Centre, call 01744 455 052 or log on to the Saints Superstore.DITCH THE FUSS… AND GET ON THE BUS!
SAINTS have announced their squad for Sunday’s Round 21 Super League match at Castleford Tigers.Greg Richards is set to make his debut for Nathan Brown’s side whilst Luke Thompson has been recalled.Nathan Brown will choose from:1. Paul Wellens, 3. Jordan Turner, 5. Francis Meli, 6. Lance Hohaia, 7. Jonny Lomax, 9. James Roby, 10. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 11. Tony Puletua, 12. Jon Wilkin, 13. Willie Manu, 14. Anthony Laffranchi, 16. Paul Clough, 19. Josh Jones, 21. Tommy Makinson, 24. Joe Greenwood, 25. Alex Walmsley, 33. Luke Thompson, 37. Gareth O’Brien, 38. Greg Richards.Daryl Powell will choose his Castleford side from:1. Richard Owen, 2. Justin Carney, 3. Michael Shenton, 5. Kirk Dixon, 6. Rangi Chase, 7. Jamie Ellis, 8. Jonathan Walker, 9. Daryl Clark, 10. Craig Huby, 12. Weller Hauraki, 13. Grant Millington, 15. Adam Milner, 16. Nathan Massey, 17. Oliver Holmes, 18. Jordan Thompson, 19. Jordan Tansey, 25.Keith Mason, 27, Ryan Boyle, 29. Ben Davies.The game kicks off at 3.30pm and the referee is George Stokes.Ticket details are hereStat Pack:St Helens have won their last ten meetings with Castleford. The Tigers’ last win against the Saints was 30-24 at The Jungle (as it was then known) on April 6, 2008.St Helens have emerged victorious from four consecutive away visits to Castleford since then.2013 meeting:St Helens 48, Castleford 18 (SLR10, 1/4/13)Super League Summary:Castleford won 4St Helens won 29 (includes win in 1999 play-offs)1 drawHighs and Lows:Castleford highest score: 36-22 (H, 2002) (Widest margin: 35-16, H, 1997)St Helens highest score: 72-4 (A, 2006) (also widest margin)Career Milestones:Paul Wellens needs nine points to reach 1,000 for his career.Wellens has scored 945 points (216 tries, 40 goals, 1 field goal) for St Helens since 1998.He has also scored points for Great Britain (18 – 4 tries, 1 goal), England (16 – 4 tries) and Lancashire (12 – 3 tries).
RUGBY League fans are being encouraged to take to the streets this summer to celebrate the 120th anniversary of a very special sporting revolution.From July 19 to July 24, representatives of every section of the Rugby League community can participate in the Founders’ Walk, a historic 120-mile journey taking in the homes of the original 22 members of the Northern Union.Organised by Rugby League Cares, the fund-raising walk commemorates the birth of Rugby League at a historic meeting at the George Hotel in Huddersfield on August 29, 1895 and will see the sport come together to celebrate its glorious past.RFL Chief Executive Nigel Wood will be doing the walk which will begin in Hull and end in St Helens, taking in the 20 other original sites of the game’s founding clubs in between.Each day will feature defined stages to give fans and community club players of all ages and abilities the opportunity to take part and raise funds for the sport’s charity, Rugby League Cares, their own local good cause or club.It is hoped the walkers will include sporting celebrities, current and past players, club officials and fans whose efforts will raise £120,000 for worthy causes within the game.RFL Chief Executive Nigel Wood said: “The 120th anniversary of Rugby League is a very significant milestone, and the Founders Walk is a terrific opportunity to celebrate our rich history and raise money to support good causes.“Many of the original grounds have been redeveloped over time, and some of the clubs no longer exist but the Founders Walk will be a fascinating journey into the past, as well as a celebration of our great sport, for everyone who takes part.“I’ve been asked to participate and I am delighted to do so. My colleagues have instructed me to do the full distance, so we’ll see!“The concept is fantastic – walking 120 miles to celebrate each of our 120 years – but people can walk as far as they like on each or any of the six days and I hope that everyone in Rugby League will participate, celebrate and support in whatever way they can.“Our sport has a rich and proud history and all efforts to celebrate are welcome.”To register for the Founders Walk please contact Rugby League Cares Operations Manager Katie IrwinThe itinerary for the Founders Walk is as follows:Sunday July 19 – HullMonday July 20 – Huddersfield, Batley, Dewsbury, WakefieldTuesday July 21 – Hunslet, Leeds, Bradford, HalifaxWednesday July 22 – Rochdale, OldhamThursday July 23 – Salford, Leigh, WiganFriday July 24 – Warrington, Widnes, St HelensThe Northern Union’s 22 founding clubs were Batley, Bradford, Brighouse, Broughton, Halifax, Huddersfield, Hull FC, Hunslet, Leeds, Leigh, Liversedge, Manningham, Oldham, Rochdale, Runcorn, St Helens, Stockport, Tyldesley, Wakefield Trinity, Warrington, Widnes and Wigan.Four clubs still play in, or on the site of, the stadium used in the first Northern Union season of 1895: Batley, Leeds, Wakefield and Widnes.The Founders Walk is one of a series of events and activities taking place in 2015 to celebrate Rugby League’s 120th anniversary. Other activities include the unveiling of a blue plaque at the grounds of each of the 22 founding clubs; the unveiling of a statue at Wembley Stadium on the day of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup final, Saturday August 29; and the induction of two more of the sport’s all-time greats into the Rugby League Hall of Fame.
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Seventy-two units are expected to come to a 7 acre piece of land off of Piner Road in Monkey Junction.Neighbors complained the project would hurt their existing property values and bring more criminal behavior to the area. Several cited their past experiences with affordable housing, saying it brings in low-income neighbors.Michael Lee represented the developer and argued all of those issues are subjective and lacked any expert evidence. The commission overall agreed but commissioner Rob Zapple argued there were present traffic concerns along Piner Road and the complex could make them worse.Related Article: Man allegedly took inappropriate photos of child at Wilmington WalmartCommissioners granted a special use permit that can allow the developer to move forward. Rendering of the apartments presented at commission. WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) – County commissioners have allowed the work to begin on a more than 70 unit affordable housing project near Monkey Junction.Commissioners voted 4-1 after lengthy debate and several back and forth from neighbors and the legal counsel representing the developer, Otter Creek Partners LLC.- Advertisement –