How HILC Supports the Disabled Community

Harlem Independent Living Center (HILC) is a community-based agency providing services free of charge to individuals with disabilities. We are not a residential program, but do provide the following direct services:

Client-Based and Systems Advocacy

Client-based systems advocacy aims to make positive changes to attitudes, policies and systems, and laws in the client service
area. The advocacy effort could be directed at a local, state, or national agency and could be directed at changing a written or
unwritten policy, or at changing a law. Where the effort is directed will depend on the nature of the problem and which organization has authority over the problem area.

When people work to change what happens in a whole group or community of people, it is called systems advocacy.

Information and Referral

Information & Referral (I&R) is the practice of bringing people and services together. I&R resource databases contain detailed
descriptions of the programs and services provided by community, social, health, and government organizations. The usual goal of the referral is to:

  • Establish a rapport
  • Gather information through active listening
  • Determine the client’s previous efforts
  • Problem solve in a partnership with the client
  • Match resources with needs
  • Identify potential barriers and constraints
  • Make appropriate referrals for services
  • Offer follow-up counsel if appropriate

Peer Support

Peer support is a system of giving and receiving help founded on key principles of respect, shared responsibility, and mutual agreement on what is helpful. Peer support is not based on psychiatric models or diagnostic criteria, it is about understanding another situation empathetically through the shared experience of emotional and psychological pain.

When people find affiliation with others whom they feel are like them, they feel a connection. This connection or affiliation is a deep holistic understanding based on a mutual experience where people are able to be with each other without the constraints of traditional expert patient relationships.

Further, as trust in the relationship builds both people are able to respectfully challenge each other when they find themselves reenacting old roles this allows members of the peer community to try out new behaviors with one another and move beyond previously held self-concepts built on disability diagnosis and trauma world view.

Independent Living Skills

Independent living skills encompass many skill areas including, but not limited to:

  • Personal care (dressing, grooming, and hygiene)
  • Food preparation
  • Clothing management (laundry sorting and identification)
  • Money management
  • Personal organization material and time management
  • Household maintenance

Independent living skills are basic skills an individual needs to do daily to live an independent life. Persons with disabilities are a diverse group. Some individuals may require assistance with even the most basic life skills, such as tooth brushing. Other individuals with disabilities may need assistance for more complex tasks such as how to manage money, pay taxes and bills, and keep and maintain a home. 

Additional independent living skills include complying with certain legal requirements, such as renewing a driver’s license on time, voting, and notifying law enforcement in the event of a crime. Independent living skills also include maintaining personal hygiene, grooming, seeking medical attention, buying the right sort of foods to eat a nutritionally balanced diet, and making sure that individuals have the clothes they need and wear them appropriately.

Application Assistance

HILC staff help persons with disabilities in the Greater Harlem area with application assistance as follows:

  • Food Stamps
  • Public Assistance Benefits
  • SSI and SSDI
  • Medicaid and Medicare
  • Housing Information
  • New York City School Tax and New York State Renters’ Credits

HILC does not refuse any reasonable request for accommodations (ADA-Title 111).