Disability Inclusion 2021: Leaving No One Behind

“You plant the seed, you may not see the bloom, but you helped plant that seed for their future.” – Laverne

Laverne has been an essential part of Quint since it was created. She is a founding board member of Quint, and one of the reasons the organization has the pulse and impact it does today.

As a lifelong resident of Pleasant Hill and many years of community organizing in the core neighbourhoods,  Laverne’s leadership was an instrumental part of the vision that led to the formation of Quint. As a member of the founding Board, Laverne helped ensure that the foundation of Quint was solid with a clear strategic plan and policies that have shaped the organization as it developed in the early years.

May 30th – June 5th was National AccessAbility week.

Kristin, staff member from our Core Neighbourhoods at Work program reflects on her personal experiences with accessibility issues around employment and housing.

Being Left Behind in the Labour Market

We have likely all heard that the rate of employment for people with disabilities is significantly lower than those without, hovering at around 50%. A few of the larger barriers that a person with a disability may face in the labor market includes:

  • fear of losing their benefits if they do find a job;
  • lack of knowledge on the part of the employer and employee regarding accommodations, and;
  • lack of experience. This could be because their experience is from before they acquired their disability and they are unsure of what they can do now or if they were born with a disability they may not have had much chance to gain employment experience.

A definite barrier for myself when I was starting out and trying to gain work experience was a lack of knowledge on the employers’ part about how some job tasks might be modified. Another major concern for someone with a mobility disability or any type of disability when applying for jobs or attending an interview is accessibility of the built environment. This includes things like what does the access to the washroom, or pathways around the office look like.

The Two Biggest Issues for Housing are Accessibility and Affordability

There is a shortage of affordable housing in the city, but this shortage becomes an even bigger problem when accessibility is factored in. When someone finds accessible housing they will often try to become a long-term tenant which is a good thing but it also means there is little to no turn over in the units that do exist. People could spend months, even years on a wait list to get into accessible housing.

It has been my experience that a lot of the accessible and/or affordable housing that does exist is designated for seniors. This makes sense because as people age they often develop physical disabilities and other health issues. We also know that pension amounts are not the greatest so many seniors are also low income. However, there is a segment of the population that are not old enough to be considered seniors so they often have to plead their case to landlords and get special permission to move into these units.

Finally, the issues of housing and employment are intimately connected. If your basic needs like safe housing are not met you cannot focus on employment. If you are lucky enough to get into low income housing you may also be at risk of a rent increase if your income also increases.  So for me, disability inclusion in employment and housing would be: 

  • Employers showing a willingness to explore someone abilities versus focusing on a person’s limitation’s and;
  • Proper funding allocated for affordable housing accessibility units to increase the current inventory

Kristin Drummond – Workshop Facilitator, Core Neighbourhoods at Work program.

As the organization continued to grow, Laverne’s position evolved into the  Director of Operations but she continued to oversee and guide the affordable housing program. She is also one of our main social function organizers ensuring that we maintain a strong and cohesive staff team/family, something that she prides herself on. She has worked hard to make sure staff feel included, heard and part of the decision making process within the organization.

Laverne also played a large role in organizing Quint’s community events, what she calls “the fun work”. This included launching and planning the annual Our Core Communities Shine events, numerous community BBQ’s, and anniversary celebrations.

Laverne’s impact is throughout all aspects of Quint’s programming and practices. Her legacy will be that of dedication, compassion, and perseverance, always fighting for the good of her community and the people in it. On behalf of the Quint staff, board of directors and the community at large, Laverne we are so thankful for your leadership and vision to bring Quint to reality. Your contributions will continue to transcend the 26 years you have committed to our west side core communities and beyond.

Happy Retirement!