From the Consumer Forum:  The following is being sent to mental health consumers and providers in Montgomery County.  It is widely recognized that many other consumers have little to no access to their own computers and printers.  Please consider sharing this edition of Consumer News with consumers.  Thank you.  The Consumer Forum is a volunteer effort to freely share information about mental health and disability concerns.
Housing Unlimited Tenant Council Honored by Maryland Association of Nonprofit Developers
"[T]he tenants council of Housing Unlimited Inc., a Rockville company that builds homes for people with psychiatric disabilities, was recognized as best community life program in Maryland. The association has previously honored the organization.

The tenants council represents tenants and provides peer support and leadership skills, said Abe Schuchman, executive director of Housing Unlimited. Rather than just signing on the dotted line of a lease, residents get several hours of assistance from the council.

With all the help it provides, Housing Unlimited expects its tenants to be responsible. "We feel very strongly that that's the highest form of respect you can pay someone," Schuchman said.

The Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services screens clients to determine their eligibility for the program, Schuchman said. Potential tenants currently live with aging parents, or are in transitional homeless facilities such as Bethesda House or supervised housing such as St. Luke's House.

Housing Unlimited has so far developed homes for 73 tenants and has almost 200 people on its waiting list, he said. The organization fully furnishes the homes with donated furniture and makes sure that care has gone into making them look attractive.

"When you convey that kind of respect to people, it comes right back at you," Schuchman said."


"Rockville Woman Crowned Ms. Wheelchair America "

Md. Woman Crowned Ms. Wheelchair America
By Associated Press
July 31, 2004, 10:31 PM EDT
RICHMOND, Va. -- Juliette Rizzo of Maryland was crowned Ms. Wheelchair America 2005 on Saturday, beating out contestants from 24 other states and the nation's capital for the right to represent the achievements of women with disabilities.
Rizzo, 36, of Rockville, will travel the country for the next year as an advocate for the more than 50 million Americans with disabilities.
Rizzo contracted a systemic infection when she was 3 years old, resulting in juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma and fibromyalgia, program organizers said.
She earned a master's of journalism degree from the University of North Texas and now works as director of communication and media for the U.S. Department of Education in the office of special education and rehabilitative services.
The Ms. Wheelchair America Program, open to women 21 to 60 who use a wheelchair for daily mobility, judges on public speaking, personal interviews and on-stage interviews.
Copyright © 2004, The Associated Press

The Texas Republican Party supports an amendment to the ADA to exclude people with mental disabilities, others

Action Alert

Texas GOP Platform Calls for Dismantling of the ADA

Targeting People with Disabilities During an Election Year

(August 3, 2004) Your action is urgently needed to contact President Bush and the Texas Republican Party and tell them to reverse their call for an amendment to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which would eliminate protections for millions of citizens with disabilities.

The platform politicizes the ADA, a nonpartisan law, by trying to associate it with hot button issues and seeking to “exclude” categories that are NOT covered by the ADA such as “homosexual practices” and “current illegal substance abuse.”

Furthermore, the platform goes after those that are currently the most disenfranchised citizens in our country – children with learning and behavioral disabilities, individuals with HIV, and those with mental disabilities. (And of course it's not as though Congress hadn't already thought about coverage of people with mental disabilities and infectious diseases when they passed the ADA – at the time there were proposed amendments to exclude people with mental disabilities & HIV that were soundly defeated.)

Page 14 of the 2004 Texas State Republican Party Platform reads:

Americans with Disabilities Act – The Party supports amendment of the Americans with Disabilities Act to exclude from its definition those persons with infectious diseases, substance addiction, learning disabilities, behavior disorders, homosexual practices and mental stress, thereby reducing abuse of the Act.

The entire document is available online in PDF at:

What You Can Do:

- Use the information below to contact President Bush (whose own father signed the ADA into law), the Platform Committee Chair, and the Republican Party of Texas.

- Tell them to take this divisive and bigoted proposal out of the Texas Republican Party Platform!

- With the ADA being weakened in the courts, with growing waiting lists for mental health services, and with millions of Americans with disabilities needlessly forced to live in institutions, ask them why they are targeting some of America’s most disenfranchised citizens during this election year…

President George Bush
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, US 20500
Phone: (202) 456-1414
Fax: (202) 456-2461

Mr. Kirk Overbey, Chair of Platform Committee
6306 Leatherwood Cove
Austin, Texas 78759

Republican Party of Texas
900 Congress, Suite 300 Austin, Texas 78701
Phone: 512.477.9821
Fax: 512.480.0709


ADA Watch is a project of the National Coalition for Disability Rights, an alliance of hundreds of disability, civil rights, and social justice organizations united to defend and promote the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the human rights of children and adults with physical, mental, cognitive and developmental disabilities.

Homelessness Empowerment Project
The National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) since it's inception has made
its decisions in concert with people experiencing homelessness.  At this
time in our history the need to have a strong representation of the voices
of those that we serve has never been greater.  In an attempt to raise the
collective voices of people experiencing homeless, NCH would like your help
in identifying homeless or formerly homeless individuals that are interested
in advocacy. 
NCH will be launching the Homelessness Empowerment Project, a
project aimed at increasing the role of people experiencing homeless in
organizing for the end to homelessness in America. Please write me at if you are interested in learning more
about the project or if you would like to send me the name of an individual that might be interested.

Donald H. Whitehead Jr.
Executive Director
National Coalition for the Homeless
1012 14th St. NW Suite 600
Washington, DC 20005-3471
Ph:  (202) 737-6444 x14
Fax: (202) 737-6445


My name is Jim Leftwich and I am writing on behalf of a website which I
own called No Longer Lonely Online Personals.  The site is an online
dating site much like the large commercial sites like and but it is designed and intended solely for adults with mental
illness.  Use of the site is completely free of charge.  The privacy
and safety of my members is of utmost importance and is strictly

Please take the time to come visit us at:

Jim Leftwich
P.O.  Box 8174
White Plains, NY 10602
Webmaster & President
Bringing Emergency Preparedness to the Government's Workers and Customers With Disabilities
An enduring story from September 11, 2001, concerns two
friends - Ed Beyea and Abe Zelmanowitz - who worked for
Blue Cross/Blue Shield on the 27th floor of One World Trade
Center. During the evacuation of the building, Ed, who was
quadriplegic, decided to wait behind while others evacuated
first. Abe directed Ed's aide to get out of the building,
and volunteered to wait with Ed until he could be carried
out. This proved not to be possible in the ensuing minutes
until the building collapsed, and both men died.
This is one example of the vulnerability facing people with
disabilities in times of crisis. When natural disasters or
acts of terrorism threaten American citizens, providing for
the safety and security of people with disabilities
requires careful planning and coordination.
The Executive Order can be found at: 
For more information:
Troy R. Justesen, Ed.D.
Delegated the authority to perform the functions of
Assistant Secretary for Special Education and
Rehabilitative Services
White House Domestic Policy Council at (202) 456-5228

The NGA and Your State Disability Community - July 2004

In late February, 2005, your Governor will vote at the National Governors Association meeting on a critical motion that affects all persons with disabilities. 

"WHEREAS millions of people with disabilities and older Americans
currently need or will need long term services and supports to lvie in the
community; and

WHEREAS the current long term care system is fragmented, overly
medicalized, bureaucratic, expensive with an institutional bias that
unnecessarily places people with disabilities and other Americans in
nursing homes and other institutions; and

WHEREAS the Supreme Court in the Olmstead vs. LC & EW decision ruled in
1998 that people have the right to services in the most integrated

WHEREAS the American public overwhelmingly wants long term care services
and supports in their own homes and communities; and

WHEREAS the reform of the long term care system must be a cooperative
partnership between the federal government, the States and the disability
/ older community,

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the National Governors Association, NGA, by
a vote of membership and Executive Committee supports the following:

    A) The current long term services and supports system has an
institutional bias that must be reformed through a cooperative effort by
the federal government, the states and the disability/older community; and

    B) The long term services and support system must include the
principles that home and community services and supports are the first
priority and that the support services should be provided in the most
integrated setting; and

    C) No person with a disability or older American should be forced into
a nursing home or other institution because of the lack of community
options;  and

    D) People with disabilities and older American must integrally
participate in the design, implementation and review of the long term
services and support system; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NGA supports the passage and funding of
(currently S.  971 - HR 2032) and legislation that include the Money
follows the Person initiative (currently S. 1394 - HR 1811); and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NGA work with the individual states to
assure that the Supreme Court's Olmstead decision is aggressively
implemented and that the measure of this implementation be, in a year, how
many people have gotten out of the nursing homes and other institutions
and how many people have been diverted from nursing homes and other
institutions; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NGA work with the states to assure that
any 1115 waivers submitted by a State should have statewide public
hearings before development and submission to HHS, and that 1115 waiver
processes should not be used to undercut current community Medicaid
services and federal protections; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NGA supports reforms of the long term
services and support system that does not result in block grant funding to
the states and removal of the current national medicaid protections."

What Advocates should do:

    1. Make your local Centers for Independent Living, senior citizen
groups, ARC, and other statewide disability advocacy groups establish the
NGA vote as a top priority in the next seven months.

    2. Begin the organizing process now - who knows the governor, her/his
staff, sympathetic elected officials who can reach the Governor?  Start a
letter writing campaign to pressure your Governor. Letters to the
newspapers should be continuously written with stories of persons who
would benefit from a positive NGA vote.

    3. Use the NGA vote to write newspaper articles to raise the
institutional bias in your State's allocations of its long-term care
funds.  (The figures are available to make a very persuasive argument.
Use them.)

    4.  Demand a meeting with your Governor to discuss his prospective NGA
vote.  Tell him her / his disability community is watching.  This vote
costs nothing!!!!!  If your Governor refuses to support this resolution,
make sure s/he knows the potential consequences for him/her and for us.

    5.  Get ready to come to Washington, D.C. with ADAPT in February,
2005, and tell your Governor you'll be there.

    6.  This NGA meeting and vote are terrific opportunities to organize
your State's disability community.  During the next seven months, it is
critical that you and your State's disabilities groups and coalitions make
sure your Governor is made emphatically clear that you want a vote in
support the this resolution!

Steve Gold, The Disability Odyssey continues

Back issues of other Information Bulletins are available online at with a searchable Archive at this site divided
into different subjects.