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Board Approves Large 'Group Homes' On LDC Grounds
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 22, 2004

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS--Advocates for community living demonstrated Thursday at a meeting of the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board, as the board approved a plan to build four, 10-bed "group homes" on the grounds of the former Lincoln Developmental Center.

The Board, which is currently missing two members, voted 3-0 to allow the state Department of Human Services to build what is being called "Lincoln Estates" on the 103-acre LDC campus.

Board chairman Glenn Poshard said he sympathized with the protesters, who carried signs saying, "People before politics" and "No to Lincoln Estates". He would not allow them to comment, however, explaining that the board meeting was the wrong place and time to make their complaints.

According to the State Journal-Register, Poshard said, "If I were one of those folks, I'd probably want to be living at home and getting support from the state or the federal government in helping me to do that. But there are a lot of folks who can't do that and who want to come back to the Lincoln facility."

The vote allows the state to begin accepting construction bids on the $3.8 million project. No timeline has been set for that construction to begin.

Governor George H. Ryan ordered the facility closed in August 2002, and the 250 residents with developmental disabilities moved to other institutions or homes in the community. The move came because the state had been losing federal money over allegations of staff abuse and neglect, and because of investigations into deaths at the institution.

During his successful campaign for governor, Rod Blagojevich promised to reopen LDC, and get its 400 employees back to work. The union representing those workers, along with local civic leaders, have supported his efforts to reopen the facility, which was the largest employer in the area before it was shuttered.

Blagojevich's original plan to reopen the 126-year-old institution was scaled back to building the "community" of buildings on the campus to house just 40 people.

The revised plan was approved last October by a 22-member statewide task force, which included just one person with a disability. That person, along with a representative from United Cerebral Palsy and the state's Developmental Disability Council, were the only members that voted against the plan, according to the Lincoln Courier.

"Our plan is to create a new model of care that will offer something for all sectors of the community and not segregate persons with disabilities," Blagojevich said in a press release Thursday. "This is certainly not going to be the LDC of the past."

The protesters, most in wheelchairs, chanted "Shame on you! Shame on you!" after the planning board's vote, according to the Chicago Sun Times.

"This sets a very bad precedent for the state and the nation," said Sheila Romano of the Illinois Council on Developmental Disabilities.

"We have such an imbalanced system, and that didn't come out," Romano explained. "People are not having the opportunity to choose living in the community, and to build another institution is just extremely upsetting to me."

Related:
"Lincoln Developmental Center -- Illinois Governor Strives To Return To The Past" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)

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