On Friday, October 17, New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer hosted a workshop in honor of Disability Employment Awareness Month and the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, at Lighthouse International in Midtown Manhattan.
Community based organizations and service providers, including, NYC Transit, Center for Independence of the Disabled NY, Harlem Independent Living Center and Lighthouse Guild, set up information tables to offer resources to attendees.
There are over 850,000 New Yorkers with disabilities, and 36 percent of working age people with disabilities live below the poverty line. New York City also lacks adequate accessibility for people with disabilities in housing, mass transit, and curb design. In the United States, there is 70 percent unemployment among people with disabilities.
One way the Comptroller’s Office is seeking to expand opportunity is through the M/WBE letter grade report, which graded all NYC agencies on their spending with minority and women-owned businesses. Like minority and women-owned businesses, Emerging Business Enterprises, or EBEs, are also within the purview of City laws designed to encourage spending with M/WBEs.
EBE classification applies to businesses owned by individuals who have experienced economic and social disadvantage, such as people with disabilities and veterans. While the report was able to grade agencies on M/WBE spending, no money has been spent with EBE’s. Currently, only 2 EBE’s participate in this program.
The Comptroller recommended expanding contracts under Local Law 1, improving outreach to increase the number of certified EBEs, and an ongoing dialogue to inform the program’s development.
As Stringer stated, “When we can harness the incredible skills and enthusiasm of the disability community, it will benefit all New Yorkers. Putting those with disabilities on a path to economic independence is the best way that we can expand opportunity for everyone.”