The NorCal SCI trio of Nick, Carl and Franklin met up in mid-December with Sheri Burns, Executive Director of Silicon Valley Independent Living Center (SVILC) as part of our effort to engage every single ILC in Northern California and learn the range of services they offer to individuals with disabilities.
SVILC was founded in 1976 in San Jose and added a Gilroy office in 1997 and serves the entire Santa Clara County. While most ILCs offer, and are required by law, to offer a set of core services, each ILC can offer additional services and our meeting with Sheri was quite revealing in not only better understanding their unique offerings but also addressing other areas that we know affects the SCI population differently.
The Housing Search Assistance program, for example, offers a weekly workshop on Fridays that can help you better understand your rights as a person with a disability, how to effectively search for affordable and accessible housing, applying for emergency funds such as rent, security deposit, utilities, etc., and information and referrals to appropriate housing resources.
SVILC’s Community Transition Program assists individuals on Medi-Cal transition from a skilled nursing facility or long-term rehab center to a home, apartment or private room community setting. For individuals not on Medi-Cal, there are some limited funds available through the Department of Rehabilitation to modify one’s private residence in order for it become accessible.
As one of 12 ILCs in California offering Assistive Technology with a Device Lending Library, SVILC has over 200 different adaptive devices that can be loaned out for up to 30 days. Working with the other 11 centers, they offer several thousand devices, but also regardless of where you live in California, you can access the device lending library.
Sheri said that her staff is getting up to speed to offer an even more robust and higher level of service and resources related to navigating your way around the complex maze of disability benefits, an area that is continuously becoming more challenging for consumers that often times entraps them in a negative situation.
SVILC is also continually expanding its hands-on workshops and classes targeting topics such as cooking skills, time management, money management, using public transit systems, pre-vocational training and others.
Their Computer Training Lab allows you to conduct housing searches, job searches, building a resume, etc. by providing access to the computer, adaptive devices and software to use, and will soon begin offering computer basic skills training.
Sheri has also been advocating significantly with the County agencies for affordable and accessible housing, especially following the passage of Measure A in 2016. Measure A generated just under a billion dollars in public funding to support development of affordable housing in Santa Clara County. Thanks to her efforts and others, roughly 20% of the funds have been earmarked for housing for older adults and for those with a disability. She has also been a tireless advocate of the Universal Design principles for all housing which basically calls for all housing units to be built as accessible units since one never knows when they’ll become disabled at which point, their housing situation isn't adversely affected.
SVILC is collaborating with other ILCs to develop a robust database for Personal Care Attendants (PCA). The database, QuickMatch, is a collaborative of ILCs that SVILC is planning on joining this year.
The best way to get started with SVILC is to contact them at (408) 894-9041 in San Jose or (408) 843-9100 in Gilroy. Judging by all the SVILC initiatives that Sheri described to NorCal SCI, 2018 will be one busy year for them and we are excited to partner with them wherever we can find common goals. Thank you for your time, Sheri.