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Community Living Efforts Get Boost From Justice Department

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In three separate actions Tuesday, the Justice Department called out a handful of states for allegedly failing to provide community living options for residents with disabilities.

In Florida attorneys for the federal government filed papers in support of a lawsuit brought by a woman with spinal cord injury who lives independently, but was told that she would need to enter a nursing home for at least 60 days in order to be eligible for increased supports in the community.

Similarly, New Jersey is on the hook after the Justice Department filed a brief in support of a suit alleging that the state is steering people with disabilities to institutions and slowing moves to the community even in cases where residents meet the criteria for community living.

And in Illinois the federal government is supporting a proposed settlement involving a group of institutionalized individuals with mental illness who say that were not given the option to live in the community.

The moves Tuesday come just weeks after the Justice Department filed suit against the state of Arkansas alleging that residents with disabilities there have no choice but to live in institutions if they want to receive government assistance.

The actions are part of the Obama Administration’s “Year of Community Living” initiative to expand housing options in honor of the tenth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Olmstead v. L.C. which favored the option of living in the community whenever possible.

Correction: This article has been corrected to reflect that the “Year of Community Living” initiative is in honor of the tenth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Olmstead v. L.C.

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