A street named for Marca Bristo? How about justice for people with disabilities first?

The most immediate barrier to liberation for people with disabilities in Chicago is accessible, affordable housing, which Marca fought for.

SHARE A street named for Marca Bristo? How about justice for people with disabilities first?
Marca Bristo at a Pride Parade in Chicago.

Marca Bristo, the founder of Access Living who died last month, fought for affordable housing in Chicago for people with disabilities.

Photo provided by Access Living

In 1980, Marca Bristo, Henry Betts and others at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago sat down to discuss a fundamental problem. Most non-elderly people discharged from rehab were going straight into nursing homes.

They identified the immediate, salient barrier: Accessible, affordable housing.

So Access Living was founded.

Four decades later, the most immediate and salient barrier to liberation for people with disabilities in Chicago is still accessible, affordable housing.

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A few years ago, Marca gave pivotal testimony in a suit in Los Angeles that claimed that city had violated its obligations for accessibility across its entire affordable housing program under federal law.

That suit was settled, and Marca saw the opportunity to transform Chicago housing, to finish what she started 40 years ago. Access Living filed a similar lawsuit against the city of Chicago. Marca thought it might be the most important thing she would ever do.

Trying to avoid reasonable settlement discussions at all cost, the city is digging in. Its lawyers are dragging their feet.

Last spring, the judge asked the parties to spend the summer describing the scope of the suit. Attorneys for the plaintiff offered roughly 800 housing units that possibly fell within the scope. But as of today, the city has denied that a single one of those units, or any units, are within the scope of the complaint.

The city is unwilling and likely unable to say what federally supported housing units are accessible, which are occupied by people who need them and where they are so that people who need them can find them.

That tells the whole story. This suit, at base, is about whether the city of Chicago cares at all.

The city’s lawyers want to kill this suit — to make it, and the issue, go away. We can only assume they are acting at the direction of the client, Mayor Lightfoot. The mayor’s office declined to discuss the issue with us but offered to name a street after Marca.

We do not speak for Access Living, but Marca’s family will not abide such gestures absent the city showing that it takes seriously its failures regarding the fair housing rights of people with disabilities.

Bob Kettlewell, Lincoln Park

Don’t tax me for being alone

Regarding Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s plan to tax solo ride-hail trips:

I am a 79-year-old widow who survives on Social Security and savings. I stopped driving about a year ago and now take public transportation when feasible.

The majority of my trips are to doctor appointments. The other day, I took two buses to reach my dentist. That and a tooth cleaning exhausted me. I elected to take a Lyft home. I was only a few miles from my home, but the fare was almost $10. A lot of money for me. Don’t tax me further because I travel alone ... because, I am alone.

Barb Tomko, Edgewater

Atatiana shooting no ‘accident’

William Choslovsky is supposedly a lawyer. His opinion piece about the police shooting of Atatiana Jefferson in Fort Worth, Texas, shows that he’s either willfully ignorant of the situation in America concerning the overuse of force by police officers, or that he has no clue about what’s righteous and not.

Judging by the fact that he describes Jefferson’s murder as an “accident,” it seems he’s chosen to ignore reality.

Jason Chilko, The Poconos, Pennsylvania

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