Three Hundred To Move From Agnews In Next 20 Months
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
November 3, 2005
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA--The state of California recently announced that Agnews Developmental Center would close by June 2007 and its 300-plus residents with developmental disabilities moved to homes in the community.
Officials say this will be accomplished through what is being described as a model for community living that adds a new layer of stability for former institution residents.
In most community residential programs, non-profit or for-profit organizations own or rent the homes or apartments where the people being served live. If the organization goes out of business, the government often has to find new living arrangements.
Last year, California lawmakers approved a measure that provides $100 million to purchase up to 100 homes in the Bay Area specifically for the 300 or so Agnews residents. Under this law, nonprofit housing corporations are being developed specifically to purchase the homes, then lease them out to residential service providers. If a provider goes out of business, a new provider would be found to take over the lease, while the residents continue to stay in the same home.
"They will be permanent homes, which is a real milestone for us," Jim Burton, executive director of the Regional Center of the East Bay, told the Contra Costa Times. "It's a fundamental change in how we've done housing for people with developmental disabilities."
Some advocates are watching this new model to see if it might be used in the future for people who are not current Agnews residents.
Additionally, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill last month that authorizes the state Department of Developmental Services to use existing Agnews employees during the transition into the community.
Agnews, which was built in 1888, has been targeted for closure for many years as the state has moved toward more community-based supports for people with developmental disabilities. Three years ago, it was determined that it would cost the state several million dollars to modernize the aging buildings and bring them up to code.
But employees and a group of residents' family members have fought to delay the moves. Some still are advocating for part of the 87-acre wooded campus to be set aside for "community homes" to house some of the institution's current residents. Schwarzenegger, however, recently vetoed legislation that would have set up a group to spend more time looking at ways to make Agnews property a center for disability services and housing.
"Center in San Jose for adults with disabilities to close" (Contra Costa Times)
"Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger Signs Lieber Agnews Legislation" (American Chronicle)