Advocacy at its Finest (continued)

Justin, who has been involved with OSAC since 2013, said, “I have done a lot of work with OSAC as an advocate for people with disabilities… I am proud of what I have done for everybody.” We are excited about the passing of both SB 491 and SB 494 and look forward to the positive impact this legislation will have across Oregon and within our own community.

SB 491: Relating to housing for individuals with developmental disabilities

This bill works to transfer the responsibility of the Fairview Housing Trust from the Department of Human Services to the Oregon Community Foundation. Back in 2000, when the Fairview Training Center was closed, it created this Trust with funds from the sale of the property. The Trust was designated to be used for the support of Oregonians with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). Senator Sara Gelser sponsored this legislation affirming that it will “help provide housing opportunity for people experiencing intellectual and developmental disabilities.” Anna Keenan-Mudrick, legislative chair for Community Providers Association of Oregon (of which Home Life is an active member), testified in front of the Senate Committee on Human Services regarding CPAO’s support of this bill. Keenan-Mudrick advocated for this bill stating that “moving the remaining funds in the Trust to the Oregon Community Foundation would ensure this critical asset is safeguarded from further cuts, and that it continues to fulfill its mission.”

All of us at Home Life are thrilled about the passage of this bill as it will now protect the remaining $6 million, ensuring that these funds will be directed toward housing for people with I/DD. We look forward to seeing the positive results of this legislative effort in our own program and other Oregon community provider programs.

Justin, far left, looks on as Gov. Brown celebrates

SB 494: Relating to employment of individuals with disabilities; and prescribing an effective date.

The new law removes individuals with disabilities from a category of persons for whom employers may pay sub-minimum wage. It requires employers to pay individuals with disabilities minimum wage by July 1, 2023. Executive Director of OSAC, Gabrielle Guedon, spoke to the House Committee on Business and Labor in support of this bill stating “phasing out the practice of paying people with disabilities less than minimum wage will help many.” When discussing the importance of this recently passed legislation, Justin added “There were a lot of people being paid the sub-minimum wage and that was not covering it for anyone with a disability to live on their own… We wanted to see everybody being paid minimum wage if they were doing the work.” Home Life is excited for this great achievement for the people that we support and individuals experiencing intellectual and developmental disabilities across the state of Oregon.

When looking back at the experience, Justin was very proud to have been a part of it all.  “It was a very big honor for me to meet the Governor in person because I had never met the Governor. I just felt really honored as an advocate and to actually shake the Governor’s hand.” When asked about his favorite part of the signing ceremony, Justin emphasized the effort that had gone into the advocacy behind these bills and seeing that hard work pay off. “Being there together and we all worked together as a group to make this happen. And then we got to see in person the Governor sign and complete it… I really thoroughly enjoyed the signing part and then us having a photo with her.”

Justin with Karli