Neighbors Fear Group Home Residents They Haven't Met
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 10, 2003
NEWBURGH, INDIANA--They haven't even met their new neighbors, but residents of a middle-class subdivision are "uneasy" about the eight men with developmental disabilities that have moved in next door. They are afraid that the men might have criminal backgrounds. They are afraid that the group home might bring down their property values.
Mark Lammers, who represents the homeowners association, told the Courier & Press that subdivision residents don't object to the men "having a nice place to live", they just don't want that place to be in their neighborhood.
Members of the association, whose homes sell in the $130,000 to $160,000 range, and a nearby subdivision with homes above $220,000, plan to fight the move at the local Plan Commission meeting Wednesday.
Lammers admits that there may not be much the groups can do except complain, because state law allows group homes to be established, without notice, in residential areas.
"I can see why, I think," Lammers said. "Probably without the law, zoning restrictions would prevent them from getting any home . . . We just don't feel it was the intent of lawmakers to lower property values for existing owners."
Julie Roberts, director of Res-Care Normal Life, the agency that will be supporting the men in their new home, said that fair housing laws are there to protect everyone's rights.
"They have a right to live in that neighborhood," explained Roberts. "I'm a little surprised, in this day and age, that there is a problem like this."
"They (the men) are nice people. I think once everybody gets a chance to meet them, they'll see that."