HARTFORD, Conn. — Gov. Ned Lamont’s budget proposal would pay for 70 new apartments over two years for people with intellectual disabilities — a bit of relief in a state that has relied heavily on more costly group homes and residential campuses.

There are dozens of clients of the state Department of Developmental Services who live in public or private group homes who could function well in more independent settings — but a housing shortage keeps them in group homes with around-the-clock care year after year.

In the apartment settings, the residents sign the lease and receive in-home supports, the attention of DDS case workers and rental assistance, said Chris McClure of the Office of Policy and Management, the governor’s budget-writing agency. Often, two people live in an apartment as roommates.

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In turn, spaces would open in group homes for people who need that higher level of support.

It costs about $90,000 to $140,000 to care for one person for one year in a private group home that contracts with the state. Putting clients in shared apartments, with helpful technology and access to visiting aides, lowers the costs by tens of thousands of dollars per person, advocates say. That allows more people to be housed for the same budget allocation.

The Arc Connecticut and other advocates for people with intellectual disabilities fiercely support measures like these for two reasons — they don’t require additional money and therefore are not deal-breakers, and they give clients a chance to gain more freedom.

“You serve more people, you create more options, you don’t lower quality but you do lower cost,” Edwin “Win” Evarts, executive director of The Arc Connecticut, has said.

More than 2,000 people are on a waiting list for in-home services or residential placements in Connecticut. Many live with aging parents who are struggling to care for their adult children.

The developmental services agency serves 16,000 Connecticut residents.

© 2019 Hartford Courant
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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