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2010 Candidate Questionnaire for State Senate and Assembly

Candidate Name: Desiree Pilgrim-Hunter

Candidate for Senate District: 33 (Bronx)

Campaign Name: Friends of Desiree Hunter


Campaign Address: P.O. Box 87 Kingsbridge Station, Bronx, NY 10463

Campaign Manager: Yorman Nunez

Phone: 646-643-5617

Fax: 360-251-3518





The following list includes leaders of tenant associations representing hundreds of people in the district, community-based organizations, and prominent religious institutions in the Northwest Bronx:



  1. If you are not an incumbent,

    1. Is your present office/work place accessible to people with disabilities? If not, what have you done to rectify the inaccessibility?




  2. What personal and professional experience have you had with people with disabilities in your personal life and in the workplace?


    As a person living with disabilities myself I know the challenges of being viewed as different and inferior or not deserving of equal treatment. In the AHRC apartment program housed in my complex I work to make sure that my friends in this program living with disabilities are viewed in my community of Fordham Hill as equals. I'm proud to say that all of them are considered part of our larger family. Margaret is my friend, part of the family and a perfect example of what I've been able to achieve with this program and the residents at Fordham Hill.


  3. What type of jobs would you be willing to hire and to provide reasonable accommodation (e.g. flex or part time) for staff members with disabilities?


    I will always make more than reasonable accommodations for anyone I would employ who is living with a disability.


  4. While in public office and/or prior to this campaign, what have you accomplished in regard to advancing disability rights? This can include work towards accessible housing, transportation, employment, health care, education, and including people with disabilities in the political process?


    As President of the largest privately owned and financed cooperative in the Bronx, I support 11 apartments housing approximately 25 people living with disabilities in the AHRC apartment program. In addition, when I became President 4 years ago, I pushed for complete ADA compliance regarding accessibility. In our recent refinancing of our co-op we have set aside funds to make all of our 9 buildings ADA-compliant. We will start this year. Unofficially, I have been adopted by one of them. Margaret Paladino lives on the same floor and shares the same birthday as my husband. She has claimed my husband, myself and my daughter as her family and we love her dearly. Margaret, a Catholic, joined my Lutheran a little over a month ago, after going to church with us every Sunday over the past year. She has been my window into the other side of physical and mental disabilities.


  5. Will you commit to only attend and/or sponsor events that are accessible to people with disabilities including providing written materials in alternate formats, providing assistive listening systems, and sign language interpreters, as well as ensuring that locations are accessible to people who use mobility aids, like wheelchairs and walkers?


    Any event I sponsor will be ADA compliant, accessible to people with disabilities.


  6. Do you pledge to use your office to affirm or strengthen, rather than weaken, civil rights protections to persons with disabilities?




  7. How will you work closely with the disability community to assure passage of vitally needed legislation? What will be your strategy?


    I will bring the disability community voices, including my own, to Albany to meet with Senators whenever necessary.


  8. How would you change the laws of New York State to protect the rights of its citizens with disabilities?


    I will work with the 504 Democratic Club to push forward an agenda that advances the protections of people with disabilities.


  9. While the State is focused on reducing the costs of Medicaid and other programs, persons with disabilities need to continue to have access to the services and supports they need and choose.

    1. Would you oppose proposals which would negatively affect eligibility, benefits, coverage, and/or access to services for Medicaid beneficiaries and eliminate the systemic bias that leads to unwanted placement in nursing homes and other institutions?


      Yes, I will oppose proposals which would have a negatively affect the eligibility, benefits, coverage and or access to services for Medicaid beneficiaries.


    2. Would you seek to promote comprehensive long term care reform that will not reduce coverage or access to services?


      Yes, I would support long-term care reform.


    3. Would you increase rental/housing subsidies to participants in the new Nursing Facility Transition and Diversion Medicaid waiver program?




  10. Would you expand Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage program (EPIC) to provide the same level of eligibility and coverage to persons with disabilities under age 65?




  11. We are in the midst of a housing crisis. Accessible, affordable housing is in short supply. People with disabilities are being priced out of the market. Do you support the creation of a housing trust fund for persons with disabilities?


    Yes, I would support the creation of a housing trust fund for persons with disabilities.


  12. Visitability sets guidelines to ensure newly constructed multi-family dwellings have basic accessible/adaptable features to permit people with disabilities can visit, and for residents to "age in place," without having to move out when age and/or disability set in. Do you support incorporating the concept of "visitability" in the New York State Building Code?




  13. At present: SCRIE (Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption) Household income cap is $29,000. DRIE (Disabled Rent Increase Exemption) is $19,284/single and $27,780/2 or more. What is your position on increasing DRIE income eligibility to match SCRIE?




  14. While localities have acquired voting machines that attempt to meet the accessibility standards of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), many poling places in New York State remain inaccessible to persons with disabilities. Do you favor the elimination of provisions in Section 4-104 (1-a) of the New York State Election Law allowing waiver of polling place accessibility standards?


    I would support provisions in any Law that help the disabled community gain more access to polling places.


  15. How do you propose dealing with school districts that deny civil rights to disabled students even after the Sate Division of Civil Rights affirms the student's rights such as to use a service animal?


    I plan to work with people from the disabled community and officials from the D.O.E. to take the appropriate measures.


  16. Do you support legislation requiring car services, and shuttle services to purchase wheelchair accessible vehicles or otherwise ensure that they have the capacity to serve persons with disabilities?




  17. Will you or do you support Assembly Member Kellner's proposed bill requiring New York City to transition to a 100% accessible taxi fleet?




  18. Persons with disabilities have historically been under-represented within the Democratic Party leadership. According to the 2000 census, persons with disabilities comprised 20.6% of New York State residents and 23.1% of those 18 years and older. Previously, we were told that only those groups included in the Voting Rights Act were included in the goals and timetables for delegate selection. Yet the lesbian and gay communities were included for the first time at the 2000 convention and again at the 2004 and 2010 conventions. Would you support a campaign to set a goal that 10% of the total New York State Delegation to the 2012 Democratic National Convention be comprised of persons with disabilities.