The latest accomplishments of the Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation (PATF) were highlighted at a press conference yesterday hosted by Chief Executive Officer, Susan Tachau, at the Capitol Rotunda at 2:30 p.m. PATF continues to achieve outstanding outcomes for the individuals with disabilities and older Pennsylvanians who have been able to purchase the assistive technology (AT) devices and services they need. The program leverages a small amount of public funding into a large number of loans that strengthen our communities. In addition, the repayment of loans from past borrowers provides funding for future borrowers. Remarkably, even though PATF makes many non-traditional loans, its loan default rate is under 1%, which is significantly better than the industry average of about 10% for traditional lenders.
The organization released its 2015-2016 Annual Report (view the Annual Report here) that contains information on how PATF’s financing made it possible for 304 people with disabilities in Pennsylvania to acquire the assistive technology (AT) they need in the last year. The Report, available at the event, also describes the tremendous growth PATF has experienced in the past 14 years, and the types of assistive technology that more than 2,670 people have purchased with their loans since the organization was founded. The Report also profiles the stories of borrowers whose lives have been impacted by the assistive technology they were able to purchase.
Pennsylvania policy makers spoke about their support of and continued commitment to provide essential public and private funding for the program. Speakers included Senators Ryan Aument, Lisa Baker, Christine Tartaglione, Pat Vance and Sean Wiley; Representatives Tim Briggs, Kate Harper and Dan Miller. In addition, Board President Derek Baker presented Senator Vance with a Certificate of Appreciation in recognition of her hard work, dedication and accomplishments for improving access to assistive technology for people with disabilities. Ben Laudermilch, newly appointed Executive Housing Director, PA Department of Human Services, also spoke about the state’s comprehensive housing plan that will expand affordable, accessible housing for people with disabilities.
Additionally, Robert Shilling, a PATF Board member, spoke about the importance of AT devices for people who are Deaf and hard-of-hearing and Tina Schiefelbein, of Affordable Care Hearing Aid followed. Borrower Linzey Zoccola, founder of a service dog training organization, spoke about living and working independently using the assistive technology she purchased through PATF and how it has impacted her life.
Using both public and private funding, PATF serves Pennsylvanians without regard to age, income, or disability, and currently has a loan portfolio of over $33 million. The organization buys down the interest rate on all loans, provides extended repayment periods as needed, and guarantees loans for borrowers who do not have a traditional credit history. Other services include providing assistance to hundreds of individuals to locate and apply for other sources of available funding. In addition, PATF provides financial education to applicants and borrowers. The goal is to empower people with disabilities to be savvy financial consumers.
The Board and staff of PATF are pleased to be included in the Governor’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2016-2017 in a line item called Assistive Technology Devices, within the Department of Labor & Industry. This $400,000 appropriation will support PATF’s continued work on behalf of people with disabilities of all ages across Pennsylvania. PATF is also advocating for an increase of $100,000 (total of $500,000) supporting the costs associated with underwriting and processing new loans to help additional borrowers as a result of an award of capital funds that were secured from the U.S. Treasury.
Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation (PATF) was founded in 1998 as a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide education and financing opportunities for people with disabilities and older Pennsylvanians, helping them to acquire assistive technology devices and services that improve the quality of their lives. It is headquartered in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania and uses a network of Funding Assistance Centers across the state to assist prospective borrowers. The organization maintains a website at www.patf.us. Contact them at (888) 744-1938 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find PATF on Facebook at “Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation PATF” and Twitter at “PennsylvaniaATF.”