Governor Proposes Funding for Disabled

Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today announced $2 million in funding to help up to 250 disabled persons around the state leave nursing homes, and go back to live independently in their own communities.

“If a disabled person is able to live independently with a little help, then we should do what we can to help them achieve that goal. These funds will help dozens of people who have been living in institutions move back into their communities with some basic assistance to get them set up in their new homes,” said Gov. Blagojevich.

The funds, approved by the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA), will be administered by the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS). The $2 million will allow more than 20 Centers for Independent Living (CIL) to expand their innovative Community Reintegration programs.

The funding will save an estimated $2.5 million in taxpayers’ money that would have been used to house the individuals in nursing homes.

The Community Reintegration program assists the disabled, who are between the ages of 18 and 59, and are able and willing to move into their own home, with making the transition from nursing homes to the community. The program provides services in the home to enable people with disabilities to live more independently. The Centers for Independent Living (CILs) work with the individuals and the DHS Home Service Program staff to locate appropriate housing and develop service plans to ensure the individuals can remain safely in their own home. The funds are used to pay for start-up essentials such as first month’s rent, furniture and cooking equipment that individuals need when they move into the community.

More than 900 people with disabilities have transitioned from nursing homes to the community since the program began in 1998. There are more than 13,000 individuals under the age of 60 who are living in Illinois nursing homes today. Nursing home services cost the taxpayer approximately $40,000 per year.

“Each person returned to the community saves a minimum of $10,000 per year in total costs to the state. Since its inception in 1998, the Community Reintegration Program has saved the state a total of more than $50 million, with $20 million in savings being in FY05. Since home care is much less expensive, this $2 million investment is a great deal for the Illinois taxpayer,” said Carol L. Adams, Ph.D., IDHS Secretary.

“This is excellent public policy and a coordinated multi-agency approach that makes me proud to be a part of,” said IHDA Executive Director Kelly King Dibble. “IHDA’s mission is to develop affordable housing options for low-income residents in Illinois, and we are excited to make this commitment to individuals with disabilities so they can live on their own and in their communities.”

Much of the $2 million from IHDA will go toward providing first and last month’s rent, purchasing microwave ovens and other small appliances, and stocking the individual resident’s food pantries. Since most of these individuals will have to pay rent based on a small Social Security disability check, these one-time costs will help them make this transition to community life. The rest of the money will go toward intensive case management to find residents who are interested in living outside of a skilled nursing facility and finding them affordable, accessible housing.

Interested parties should contact their local Center for Independent Living. If you don’t know where your local CIL is, contact the Illinois Network of CILs at 1-800-587-1227.