Funding increase sought for Philly commission on disabled

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Charles Horton and Matt Clark talk during City Council hearing on funding for the city's commission on disabilities.  (Tom MacDonald

Charles Horton and Matt Clark talk during City Council hearing on funding for the city's commission on disabilities. (Tom MacDonald

Members of Philadelphia City Council are questioning the funding level for the city’s commission for disabilities. 

Charles Horton, who leads the Mayor’s Commission on People With Disabilities, told the Council’s Committee on the Disabled and Special Needs he gets only $14,000 annually for his budget.

Councilwoman Helen Gym asked Horton why the office is underfunded.

“How much have you asked for?” she said.

“It’s been all the way up to $1.5 million,” he said. “It’s been different asks based on staff and projects that I wanted to perform.”

Councilwoman Cindy Bass is among the council members who want to increase the funding.

“It would be my suggestion — I don’t mind getting myself in trouble, just wanted to say it out loud — that this budget is unacceptable,” Bass said.

Matt Clark of the group Fair Ride Philadelphia who uses a wheelchair, said the disabled are not asking for extras just their basic civil rights such as curb cuts and accessible taxis and mass transit.

Nolan Atkinson, the city’s chief diversity and inclusion officer, said the Kenney administration is working on the situation. 

After the hearing Mayor Jim Kenney’s spokesman Lauren Hitt sent a email to “clarify” the statement given by Horton, saying “The Mayor’s Commission on Disabilities is funded jointly by Managing Director’s Office and the Mayor’s Office. The Managing Director’s Office provides them with $14,000 for the luncheon they host annually. The Mayor’s Office provides the Commission with $100,000 to support salaries and office operations as well as another $60,000 on average to pay for sign language coordinators. A significant amount of money also goes towards supporting Philadelphians with intellectual disabilities from the Department of Human Services and Intellectual DisAbility Services.

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