New office to advocate for people with disabilities

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Three-million New Yorkers live with a disability. With the stroke of a pen, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul created the Office of the Chief Disability Officer.

Advocates say they’ve been waiting for this for a long time.

"The office is going to represent disability issues across the board, and a voice in our government," said Denise Figueroa, Executive Director of the Independent Living Center of the Hudson Valley.

The governor said the day is long overdue, citing figures that only 35% of adults with disabilities are employed, and 30% live in poverty.

"Also, what I’m going to be doing in our budgets is authorizing state agencies to designate up to 1,200 positions be filled by qualified people with disabilities," said Hochul. "Let’s give people a real shot, a meaningful chance."

Kim Hill is the state’s first Chief Disability Officer, working in the governor’s chamber and advocating for people with disabilities.

"We’ve got a lot of issues. We’ve got home care, how to pay for home care, housing, education, employment, more ADA access, and improving access to all types of programs and services at all of the state agencies that we’re going to be working with," said Hill.

She has an extensive background working in government, and with disability advocates.

"Making sure that New York state leads the nation in terms of how we address the disability community, whether it’s in housing, education, and health care, employment," said the governor. "There are so many areas where New York state can and will do better under our administration, so it’s a very exciting day."