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Integration of Developmentally Disabled People

March 12, 1992

It was disappointing to me that at a recent meeting of the Culver City Redevelopment Agency (Times, Feb. 16) about two dozen residents of Caroline Avenue voiced strong objections to the possible opening of two small group homes for developmentally disabled adults in their neighborhood. I am writing this because I feel I understand the benefits of integrated housing for men and women who are developmentally disabled, since my own mentally retarded adult son is in a community placement.

It is to the credit of the small vocal group of neighbors that they said they are not against having disabled people living on their street. Rather, fear was expressed for maintaining property values if the proposed structure did not blend well with the homes surrounding it.

Community-based living for developmentally disabled individuals has had a long successful record. For more than 20 years, developmentally disabled men and women have been living in communities all over California without evidence of disrupting property values. Besides, it takes fewer taxpayer dollars for community-based care than it does to care for disabled individuals at the centralized developmental centers--the state hospitals.

The fact is that the economic situation, demographics and legislation are changing our communities and the way we live. The Lanterman Act of 1973, for example, enabled developmentally disabled men and women to live, for the first time, in local neighborhoods. It is that breakthrough legislation that provides the legal underpinnings for the residential program in east Culver City that Jay Nolan Community Services is planning.

The disabled adults who would be the new neighbors on the block will be well-supervised. More, they would contribute to the work of the community, bring in revenue, wanting only to enjoy home life in a residential setting like every other American citizen.

MURIEL COHEN

Los Angeles

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