Funding Slashed for Center Serving People with Disabilities
When former cab driver Deodat Jhoda was shot in the spine during a 1993 attempted robbery, he thought his driving days were over.
“For four years I was not able to do a lot of the things for myself – my independence was more or less taken away from me," he said.
The injury left him unable to move his legs and with limited movement in his arms. He says he couldn't even leave his house because he didn't have a wheelchair ramp.
It was the Center for Independent Living in New York that first came to his aid.
Now Jhoda lives in Tampa. His local center for independent living, Self Reliance, Inc., gave him a ramp and made his bathroom wheelchair accessible. They found him a van that's modified so he can drive it.
Now, Self Reliance is facing a $100,000 cut in state funding.
“I know how much I have benefited from the services that have been provided by the Center for Independent Living, and I know every cut that is made, how negatively it will impact,” Jhoda said.
Statewide, Centers for Independent Living were cut $1.6 million.
Brenda Ruehl, the executive director of Self Reliance, Inc. says the cuts will mainly affect the center's equipment services budget.
"That was the funding we would use to buy equipment for people who didn't have any other resources - whether it be a walker, whether it be getting batteries for their power chair. Things that nobody else would cover," she said.
This is particularly disturbing for Jhoda, who credits the CILs with changing his life.
"Without me being introduced to the Center for Independent Living, I pretty much would have been placed in a nursing home," he said. "I dread the thought of even thinking about it."