Homeless Shelters Suggested As Option For Adults With Disabilities, Parents Say
Some Indiana state workers suggested dropping adults with developmental disabilities at homeless shelters if they cannot be cared for at home, state legislators were told this week.
That’s one option Becky Holladay says she was given for her son Cameron, 22, who has autism, intellectual disability, epilepsy and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Though Holladay and her family thought Cameron was on a state waiting list for the Medicaid waiver since 1996, she recently learned that his name was never added.
“My comment was, what are we to do? And the voice on the other end of the phone said, ‘take him to a homeless shelter and drop him off,'” Holladay testified before the Indiana Commission on Developmental Disabilities on Tuesday. “That’s my child. I have raised him. I refuse to take him to a homeless shelter.”
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
Holladay’s account was not the first of its kind. One state lawmaker said it was the fourth such story she’d heard while sitting on the commission.
“I just find it deplorable that people are being told to go to homeless shelters. That’s not an option. That’s not a solution,” said state Rep. Suzanne Crouch in response to Holladay’s testimony.
Just last month, legislators received written testimony during a commission meeting from another Indiana parent who said that if her daughter did not receive a waiver before turning 18, staff at the residential placement where she has been schooled for years said they would either send the girl home or bring her to a homeless shelter. At that time Julia Holloway, director of the state’s Disability and Rehabilitative Services Division, told state lawmakers that suggesting a homeless shelter was unacceptable to the division.
But this week officials at the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, which oversees developmental disability services, told Disability Scoop that the agency knows of no instances where an employee has suggested a homeless shelter.
“We don’t know of any documented cases. She can’t even tell us when it happened or who said it,” the administration’s spokesman Marcus Barlow said of Holladay’s accusations. “This is the only parent who has come forward with a story like this.”
Barlow said it is not the agency’s policy to suggest a homeless shelter and that an employee who did so would be disciplined and possibly fired. As for Holladay’s case, Barlow said the agency has offered several options to her, including group homes and institutional care, but she has declined.
Holladay told legislators that she wants her son to continue living at home, but needs help caring for him during the day so that she and her husband can work. Currently, Cameron sits in a pickup truck outside his dad’s workplace all day.
“He just wants to have a life and sitting in his dad’s truck is not a life,” she said.