VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Over the previous couple of months, a city-supported housing undertaking for folks with disabilities has confronted heavy criticism for defaulting on a no-interest mortgage and never getting off the bottom shortly sufficient.
However one other motion to kill the residential undertaking generally known as Vanguard Touchdown is effervescent beneath the floor.
Advocates for folks with disabilities have inspired metropolis officers to chop ties with the undertaking. They are saying creating an remoted housing group in rural Virginia Seaside just for folks with mental and developmental disabilities isn’t the perfect follow or the kind of housing folks with disabilities need.
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Tonya Milling, government director of advocacy group The Arc of Virginia, mentioned housing folks collectively based mostly on disabilities just isn’t OK and that nationwide requirements have advanced in current a long time.
She additionally famous a 1999 U.S. Supreme Court docket ruling that segregating folks with disabilities is discriminatory and violates the Individuals with Disabilities Act and a 2012 Division of Justice settlement that ordered the state of Virginia to shut 4 of its 5 establishments for these with disabilities.
Moreover, so organizations may be eligible for Medicaid reimbursements, Milling mentioned the federal government has established guidelines that say folks with disabilities ought to obtain providers in their very own properties or in built-in settings — relatively than in establishments or different remoted settings.
“Our concern is that any time a service or program isolates folks, that it’s not inclusive,” Milling mentioned. “Providers ought to be supplied to somebody as they’d for somebody with out a incapacity.”
Slated to be constructed on 75 acres close to Princess Anne and Sandbridge roads, Vanguard Touchdown could be a $40 million residential group for 185 folks — 18 and older — with mental disabilities.
The town council permitted a no-interest $2.9 million mortgage for the undertaking and the Virginia Seaside Growth Authority disbursed the cash to the group in 2014.
Earlier this yr, although, the auditor discovered no progress has been made, and Vanguard Touchdown defaulted on the mortgage by failing to fulfill key deadlines stipulated within the mortgage settlement. The event authority will resolve June 15 whether or not to present the group extra time to progress or request that the mortgage be repaid.
Debra Pricey, government director of the nonprofit group growing the residential group — additionally named Vanguard Touchdown — didn’t reply to requests for remark.
Had Councilman Michael Berlucchi been a member in 2014, he mentioned he would have raised questions concerning the idea itself as a result of secluding folks in a rural space goes towards finest practices and state and federal authorities suggestions.
“Look across the nation — are communities like Vanguard Touchdown being constructed?” Berlucchi mentioned. “No, they’re being closed.”
Berlucchi additionally questioned why the council supported offering a no-interest mortgage to Vanguard Touchdown with out a aggressive course of.
“Think about what we may have accomplished by sharing these assets with a corporation that was established and ready to serve folks with disabilities,” Berlucchi mentioned.
Lynne Seagle, the manager director of Hope Home Basis, mentioned her group shut down all 14 of its group properties for folks with developmental and mental disabilities by 1994.
She mentioned the method started in 1984, when the group requested residents about their hopes and goals. The residents wished what many individuals need: their very own residence, a job, buddies and romance. Now, the group gives providers to 130 purchasers who primarily dwell in their very own properties with out roommates, Seagle mentioned.
Immediately, she helps assembly folks the place they need to dwell, versus housing folks with disabilities in massive establishments or group properties.
“Individuals we assist are a lot happier, have extra friendships, a lot much less of an unemployment drawback and have extra connections and locations to belong,” Seagle mentioned.
A number of years in the past, Virginia Seaside resident Ivy Kennedy and a good friend created a Fb web page to oppose the Vanguard Touchdown undertaking. Kennedy, 42, has cerebral palsy and lives together with her husband. A private care attendant assists her.
She mentioned she enjoys having the ability to work together with folks from all walks of life and feels safer when extra folks see her dwelling everyday. She doesn’t need to see the return of establishments.
“Historical past has advised us that segregation just isn’t equal,” Kennedy mentioned. “As a result of Vanguard Touchdown is segregated and other people aren’t going to be watching, it looks like it’s a breeding floor for abuse.”
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