PHILADELPHIA – On June 22, Councilmember Kendra Brooks (At-Large), with the support of Mayor Jim Kenney, proposed a charter change that will make the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities a permanent part of city government. Mayor Kenney first established the office in 2017, but a change to Philadelphia’s Home Rule Charter, approved by voters, is necessary in order to make the Office permanent.
“Making sure that every Philadelphian can participate in community, in culture, and in the life of our city is not just our moral obligation but our legal obligation,” said Councilmember Brooks. “By submitting this charter change to voters, we acknowledge the work that still needs to be done, and we affirm our commitment to making Philadelphia accessible for everyone.”
“Our Administration is committed to all members of the disability community and that’s why we are grateful to make the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities a permanent part of City government,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “We have a better government, and a better city, when we are as inclusive as possible. And we are focused on moving beyond compliance as we prioritize accessibility and inclusion of all residents, employees and visitors to Philadelphia.”
People with disabilities comprise roughly 17 percent of Philadelphia’s population. The Office’s primary role is to support the city’s compliance with the American Disability Act (ADA), the Fair Housing Act and other laws defending the rights of people with disabilities. The resolution passed unanimously during the final session of City Council before the summer recess. Philadelphia voters will see the proposed amendment on their ballots this November 7.
“While it has been my honor to lead the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities professionally, as a disabled neurodivergent with deafness, this legislation is also personal,” said Amy Nieves, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities. “There is much work to do, but today marks a historic moment that this work will be embedded in our city charter going forward and our office will become a permanent office within the city of Philadelphia to better serve our community.”
“We are pleased at the progress being made in the city towards access and inclusion,” said Vicki Landers, Founder and Executive Director of Disability Pride Philadelphia. “This resolution says the city is ready to truly engage with 17% of its constituents. The next step is a real budget to staff the office to reflect to the large number of the disability population. Congrats to Amy for the hard work and commitment! Thank you to City Council for standing behind the disability community.”