June 4, 2013The Honorable Shaun Donovan Secretary Department of Housing and Urban Development 451 Seventh Street, SW Washington DC 20410
Dear Secretary Donovan:
I am writing on behalf of Madison House Autism Foundation and others to express fundamental disagreement with the National Council on Disability’s recommendations outlined in their May 21 letter to you concerning HUD’s implementation of the Supreme Court’s decision in Olmstead v. L.C.
Earlier this month, more than 20 national experts serving those with autism and other developmental disabilities met in roundtable forum, Spectrum of Possibilities: Decreasing Barriers, Increasing Options, to consider housing options for adults with autism. Parents, autistic adults and others with intellectual/development disabilities (I/DD) are developing public-private partnerships to create local solutions which fit their specific support needs and wishes. Now, however, policy developed to protect and empower those with developmental disabilities is creating unintentional barriers.
1. We understand that the Olmstead v. L.C. decision protects against involuntary placements and upholds one’s right to choice of residential placement, support services, and community. This important ruling is misinterpreted, however, when used to exclude or limit residential options in cases where residents with developmental disabilities voluntarily choose to live with self-determined lifestyles and desired support services or when used to exclude any residential setting modeled after communities.
2. We believe that any definition of “home” and/or “community” which excludes specific settings, proximity of residences, limits number of residents with I/DD, etc. should be recognized as discrimination. The NCD’s proposed definition of community living impedes the right of an individual with developmental disabilities to choose a home and community appropriate to his or her support needs, a right which is given to the general population.
The number of autistic persons without residential programs is unprecedented and growing. The ideologically forced integration which NCD advocates, is inconsistent with the needs of the autistic community. We strongly urge you not to implement any policy that would create barriers to innovative housing models, discriminate against and limit individual choice, and/or further restrict already scarce residential opportunities and limited resources.
We would be happy to discuss our concerns and views with you or officials of the Department of Housing and Urban Development to explain the unique and growing problem of housing adults with autism.
JaLynn Prince, President and Co-Founder, Madison House Autism Foundation
Cathy Purple Cherry, Principal, Purple Cherry Architects
Jacqueline Doty, Former Director of Collateral Policy, Freddie Mac
Mari-Anne Kehler, Director, FRED Conferences
Rose van Wier Hein, Founder & Executive Director, Golden Heart Ranch
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