The Harlem Independent Living Center (HILC) is a not-for-profit organization committed to working with the disabled population in the community by advocating the following services:
HILC is a non-residential community organization that promotes the tenets of the Independent Living Philosophy for people with disabilities by providing the above services to all individuals who have a physical or mental disability, regardless of age, race, gender, creed, national origin, sexual orientation, military status or marital status.
Based on the commitment to provide access, availability and expansion to the system of independent living services for un/under-served individuals, and to introduce these to the Harlem area, we were incorporated on May 30, 1991. We are funded through the New York State Office of Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities (commonly known as VESID) and a United States Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) grant. (VESID) is now known as (ACCES-VR)
HILC’s advocacy and representation in the community have made us a recognizable entity, often contacted for support, outreach, education and vocational opportunities. Although the majority of our consumers come from the Harlem community, consumers from other boroughs are increasingly using our services. Consumer control and peer approach are fundament concepts basic to independent living services, where consumers are encouraged to determine their own destinies and set their criteria for goals and success.
A person’s eligibility for services is determined during an initial interview conducted when the prospective consumer contacts the Center via telephone or walk-in. To be eligible for services, our criteria requires the person to have a disability or represent a person with a disability and are requesting center services. If this is not the case, a referral to a non-disability-oriented organization will be made.
After a determination of services needed based on the information provided to the staff, the new consumer is given an initial appointment with a center advocate who can communicate in the person’s language. If the consumer states a need for services outside our capability, such as home care services or personal care attendants, we provide information and referral to a capable organization.
One of our most important policies is to determine which services are provided by other agencies, both locally and throughout the boroughs of New York City to assure complete provision of services. In addition, confirming which consumers have already received services from outside agencies is also necessary to avoid duplication of services. Consumers and advocates work together to achieve stated goals, and consumer progress is documented in Goal Assessment and Achievement forms. When consumers achieve a goal, we acknowledge their success by documenting Success Stories, enabling consumers to feel the positive effects of planning, overcoming obstacles and finally attaining what was once thought “impossible.”
To ensure regular updates with consumers, we outreach quarterly to consumers. HILC has a revolving database of community organizations as well as a separate roster for consumers to receive notices of center events, workshops and groups. Established contacts in the Harlem community that facilitate the promotion and advertising of our events and training workshops include all Independent Living Centers in New York City. Consumers inform others of our events.
Mass mailings to all consumers take place with a target date for assessment. Follow-up letters are sent to consumers after three months of contact. Local hospitals and clinics, including Harlem Hospital, Mt. Sinai Hospital and St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Ambulatory Clinic, distribute our flyers among their patients and have proven to be efficient venues of outreach.
Re-entry Outreach Program (ROP): Will assist persons with disabilities and criminal records to re-enter the community with dignity, pride and self enlightenment.
ROP services are free of charge