Around 30 people attended a meeting Thursday at MERIL on to share their opinions on the next state plan for independent living.

MERIL, aka Midland Empire Resources for Independent Living, hosted a public forum to discuss the state plan for independent living.

A few of the things discussed were housing, employment, health care and transportation for people living with a disability.

From the discussion on Thursday Rob Honan, CEO of MERIL, will submit information to Jefferson City so they can put together the next plan, which will cover 2021 through 2023.

“There’s 22 centers for independent living in Missouri. MERIL is one of them,” Honan said. “Some of the information (includes) what are the gaps in services, what are the things we need to be doing, how can we achieve those things.”

Specific examples for housing included affordability, accessibility and finding ways to track how many new units are introduced within communities.

“Housing is a huge issue for people with disabilities,” Honan said. “The price of an apartment can be a huge barrier for some people.”

Rural transportation was another issue that was discussed. Some people with disabilities cannot find transportation to resources that may be located in cities.

Zoie Reynolds was one of the meeting attendees. She is studying social work at Missouri Western State University.

“There’s a lot of people who, you know, deeply care about these issues,” Reynolds said. “Getting to see them be able to voice these (concerns) and hopefully get them turned into action, and a law, to get things changed is nice.”

To share an opinion on the next state plan, contact Rob Honan at rhonan@meril.org or 816-279-8558.

The current plan for independent living went into place in 2017 and the current legislation is available online.

Ryan Hennessy can be reached at ryan.hennessy@newspressnow.com. Follow him on twitter: @NPNowHennessy.