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"Chuck Norris doesn't read books; he stares them down until he gets the information he wants out of them."
- ChuckNorrisFactsdotcom

Monday, October 13, 2003
Goddamnmotherfuckingsonofabitch! Are you fucking KIDDING me?!?
"In response to complaints from Walsh and other residents of Maplewood, which has more adult group homes per capita than any other Ramsey County city, the county has agreed to encourage care providers to spread out the location of such facilities.

"It kind of defeats the whole purpose of integrating into the community if they're clustered," said county Commissioner Victoria Reinhardt.

The county is in the process of notifying cities that it will encourage providers to place new group homes in locations that are at least 1,700 feet away from other homes. However, it won't be able to enforce the guidelines.

Adult foster-care homes, which cater primarily to developmentally disabled and mentally retarded individuals, are subject to no more zoning restrictions than single-family homes, said Tim Hammond, a manager with Ramsey County's developmental disabilities division.

Federal law guarantees equal treatment for people with disabilities, he said. "We'd get in a heap of trouble if we tell people they can't live where they want."

Further, the law prohibits municipalities of any size from keeping group homes out if they involve foster care, according to Jerry Kerber, the Minnesota Health Department's licensing director.

Some advocates for people with disabilities say the county's recommendations are unworkable. Steve Larson, executive director of Arc Minnesota, said the metro area is too dense to support the distance restriction.

"If there was a 1,700-foot requirement we'd be short of services (for the developmentally disabled) in an area like St. Paul or the suburbs," he said.

Connie Menne, administrator for Ramsey County REM, Inc., which operates 10 group homes in Maplewood, said the guidelines the county are recommending would impact her clients' right to choose where to live.

"This is the same right every citizen currently enjoys," Menne wrote in an e-mail message. "Why would we want to establish a system which selectively targets people with disabilities?"

But some Maplewood residents say the safety of both neighborhoods and group home residents is compromised when the concentration of such homes gets too high.

"The amount of traffic these homes generate is incredible," said Ruth Trapold, whose neighborhood has three on one block. "The clients all have different families and different workers and they generate a lot of 911 calls. Ambulances and police cars fill up the streets."

Even so, area homeowners are quick to say group home residents have a right to live in the neighborhood they just want other communities to "do their share." Maplewood, for example, has 78 group homes, while the similarly populated Roseville has 47 homes.

A few attempts have been made to address the issue through state and local laws, but none is very promising.

State Sen. Chuck Wiger, a DFLer whose district includes Maplewood, introduced a bill last year that would restrict the granting of foster-care licenses in areas of some cities that were already "highly concentrated" with group homes.

The bill, hampered by constitutional restrictions, never got out of committee.

The Maplewood City Council passed a resolution last spring to look at creating a zoning ordinance regarding foster-group homes, despite being advised by the state attorney general's office that it couldn't be done.

"We're thinking about it," said Melinda Coleman, the city's assistant manager. "I'm thinking there's a high probability it will get challenged, but there's some research that shows this has been successful in other states."
I thought minnesota would be the last place I'd run into the "We don't want your kind here" attitude. I can't believe people would think that it's ok to try to legislate where someone can live based on their disability. Do these people not think? Are they not ashamed to have their name in the paper? Can you imagine anyone going to the city council saying that there are too many blacks or gays in the neighborhood?

Do we want to start saying that grandpa can't live in his neighborhood because there are already too many alzheimer patients there, and they wander into other people's homes? Or if you have and accident and become quadriplegic and need in-home care, you have to move because there are already too many of your kind around here? What if you wanted to move and the city told you "Sorry we already have too many white families in Maplewood. We encourage you to look elsewhere." How would you fucking feel?

It says right there in the article: "Federal law guarantees equal treatment for people with disabilities," he said. "We'd get in a heap of trouble if we tell people they can't live where they want." So why the fuck does the city of Maplewood think they can get away with telling people they can't move to Maplewood because they're disabled?

The problem is that they pretty much can. The county can "encourage" providers to do all kinds of things without ever having to "enforce" the guidelines. They just sit on something for months on end until the provider is forced to do something else, without ever having to deny approval for a new group home. It's unconstitutional and they will get spanked very hard for it sooner or later, but in the meanwhile this discrimination goes on. I hope we don't end up having to be the ones to sue.

posted by Rachel 10/13/2003
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That's the first thing I've heard that's earned him a scrap of my respect. Only a scrap because he waited until now to do it.

posted by Rachel 10/13/2003
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