Office of the Press Secretary
June 22, 2009

President Obama Commemorates Anniversary of Olmstead and Announces New
Initiatives to Assist Americans with Disabilities

On the 10th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision in the
case of Olmstead v. L.C., President Barack Obama today celebrated that
anniversary and launched "The Year of Community Living," a new effort to
assist Americans with disabilities.

Specifically, the President has directed Health and Human Services
Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Housing and Urban Development Secretary
Shaun Donovan to work together to identify ways to improve access to
housing, community supports, and independent living arrangements. As
part of this effort, later today, Secretaries Sebelius and Donovan will
announce several new initiatives including details about increased
numbers of Section 8 vouchers and enhanced interagency coordination to
address this critical civil rights issue. The initiative also will
include listening sessions conducted by HHS across the country to hear
the voices and stories of Americans and to keep the President's pledge
to be as open and transparent as possible.

"The Olmstead ruling was a critical step forward for our nation,
articulating one of the most fundamental rights of Americans with
disabilities: Having the choice to live independently," said President
Obama. "I am proud to launch this initiative to reaffirm my
Administration's commitment to vigorous enforcement of civil rights for
Americans with disabilities and to ensuring the fullest inclusion of all
people in the life of our nation."

In the Olmstead case, the Court held that the unjustified institutional
isolation of people with disabilities is a form of unlawful
discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Since that
time, progress has been made. Many individuals have successfully
transitioned to community settings, but waiting lists for community
services have grown considerably and many individuals who would like to
receive community services are not able to obtain them.

To help remedy that problem, the Obama Administration provided over $140
million in the Recovery Act funding for independent living centers
across the country. The Administration acknowledges that strides have
been made, and knows and accepts that there is much work to do in order
to maximize the choices and opportunities for individuals to receive
long-term services and supports in institutional and community settings.

The President noted that his Administration looks forward to continued
engagement with the disability community to achieve these goals.