Len Levine (Part 2)

Served as Commissioner of the Department of Human Services and worked on the transition to State-Operated Community Services

The Team of Governor Rudy Perpich and DHS Commissioner Len Levine

(Run time 2:44)

Rudy Perpich asked me to be the head of the DOT. My background was heavy in transportation and DOT kinds of things. And I had been the head of the City Council Transportation Committee. I was on the Airport Commission for ten years. I was on the Transit Commission for nine years. I mean, that's where I thought I was going.

And there were some concerns that he had about the Department of Welfare at that time, eventually we changed the name to the Department of Human Services, and asked me if I could go in there for six months and work in that area.

And then he told me about his own concern. He had two major issues that were very close to him, and they became very close to me and maybe the biggest part of my legacy as the Department of Human Services Commissioner. One was keeping people living in their homes as long as possible, as independently as possible.

I grew up next to my grandmother, and I was sensitized to how we were able to keep her, an elderly woman who was an immigrant… my grandfather had died, and she lived alone for many years with an uncle and with a son, who was also developmentally disabled, who was my uncle.

He had… the Governor had a mother who lived with his father, and both parents were elderly. And it was important for them to live in their home. And he also had a nephew who was mentally retarded. And so he came to the job of Governor being very much aware and sensitized to those two issues. And I did, too.

So it was a great combination, and our legacy, I mean, among other things… I know Governor Perpich did a lot of things, and we did other things there as well.

But two major things, one, the Equalization Law, so that people would not have to be kicked out of nursing homes because they spent down and they lost their private income… very important.

And, secondly, that people no longer had to live in a cold, hard institution. They could live in a home, just like we live in a home. And so that's a big part of my legacy. I will be forever proud of the fact that I was able to play a part in it.

There were many people who participated in that, from the Governor on down. There were all kinds of community people and residents themselves. And so, that's how it all happened.