Submitted by Carmen Childers
Dear Ms. Stockton,
To provide a direct quote from your own article, “How is it possible for a Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility for severely emotionally disturbed, (I can infer that you mean handicapped), children (age 6-17), to be placed smack dab in the middle of a quiet, residential neighborhood full of elementary, school aged, (I can infer that you mean non-handicapped), children?
Well, Ms. Stockton, the Fair Housing Act. The Fair Housing Act is how that is possible.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination against renters, buyers and residents in your community who are disabled. It does not matter if it is an intellectual disability or a physical handicap. It does not matter if they are minors or not. It does not matter if they share housing or not.
It does not matter if they live independently, live with unpaid caregivers, or if they live with paid carers. It does not matter if the paid carers run a nonprofit out of the kindness of their heart or if the paid carers are running a social security farm at their “clients'” expense.
None of that has anything to do with a disabled person’s right to live in your community.
Your only legitimate concern as a neighbor is the parking issue, because that is the only matter that actually affects you and your family.
No one is required to notify you, or anyone else for that matter, when or if a person with a registered disability moves to your community. If allowing a person with a registered disability to live in your community “feels wrong,” it is because you are an ableist, and you are trying to enforce an unofficial segregation policy.
I am not a substitute teacher, and my disabled child is not a hero, or a human shield for progress. It is not mine nor my son’s job to educate ignorant people. That is the high road.
It is not my job to educate you concerning ableism, or to inform you that autism is not contagious, and that your “normal,” non-labeled, non-stigmatized children can not catch a “severe emotional disturbance” from a group home kid.
Carmen Childers is a an independent blogger, culinary arts student, parent of a child with a disability. Carmen Childers is also a former group home employee with an interest in disability rights and other human rights issues.
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