Down Ballot Disability Supporters in New York City Also Win Big
New York City, Nov. 8 – Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has won re-election, defeating Republican challenger Marcus J. Molinaro for New York’s governorship.
In the weeks prior to the election, Cuomo made new commitments on jobs for people with disabilities in a proclamation sent to RespectAbility in October in honor of Disability Employment Awareness Month. RespectAbility is a nonpartisan, nonprofit national organization working to end stigmas and advance opportunities for people with disabilities.
“New York affirms its commitment to promoting diversity in the workplace by highlighting the rich talent and abilities that exist…and promoting inclusive communities that welcome individuals with all types of disabilities,” wrote Cuomo in the proclamation. “New York’s government agencies that serve individuals with development and/or intellectual…mental health disabilities have affirmed the state’s commitment to community living by developing implementation plans which include collaboration among many partners that will foster…the creation of more employment options.”
This commitment from the governor came at a time when jobs for people with disabilities has been increasing in New York state. Last year, 5,081 New Yorkers with disabilities gained jobs. In total, there are 1,109,370 working-age people with disabilities living in New York state. That total includes people who are blind or deaf or have other visible conditions such as spinal cord injuries, as well as people with invisible disabilities including learning disabilities, mental health or Autism. Among them, 367,478, or 33.1 percent, have jobs. New York ranks 40th compared to the rest of the country.
New York State offers a wide range of options to support and empower people with disabilities into the workforce. Across the state Project SEARCH offer school-to-work opportunities for youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities to enter the competitive workforce. SEARCH is a unique, employer-driven transition program that prepares students with disabilities for employment success. From serving seniors, to opening pathways into healthcare careers, these opportunities are having transformative impacts on the lives of young people with disabilities.
The state also has received Disability Employment Initiative grants from the United States Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration and the Office of Disability Employment Policy. These grants have enabled the hiring of Disability Resource Coordinators to provide specific supports to job seekers with disabilities. Likewise, across the state, the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities oversees Supported Employment and Employment Training programs.
Nearly half of all working-age New Yorkers with disabilities live in the greater New York City metropolitan area. In total, 455,000 working-age people with disabilities in the city. Under Mayor De Blasio, the city has launched NYC ATWORK: a successful program to provide resources and opportunities to job-seekers with disabilities. This effort is overseen by the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, led by Commissioner Victor Calise. NYC ATWORK helps connect people with disabilities looking for jobs and businesses looking to hire qualified individuals.
New York businesses have shown they are willing to engage with the disability community. Jim Sinocchi is the head of disability inclusion for JPMorgan Chase. He believes that employees with disabilities are valuable employees and promises that JPMorgan is committed to full inclusion, which “requires a leadership team with the will, commitment and attitude to identify, train and groom professionals with disabilities for leadership positions at the firm as we do with mainstream employees.”
Also in New York, several candidates who responded to RespectAbility’s New York City candidate questionnaire won their races:
- Harvey Epstein, New York State Assembly District 74
- Richard Gottfried, New York State Assembly District 75
- Robert Jackson, New York State Senate District 31
- Jessica Ramos, New York State Senate District 13
- Andrew Gounardes, State Senate District 22 (note: results are not yet certified and his opponent has not conceded, waiting until all absentee ballots are counted)