How does your agency build community awareness about persons with disabilities moving into their neighborhood? How does your agency resolve concerns?
We encourage positive interactions between our individuals and their neighbors. We are courteous, friendly, and helpful in any possible situation. We don’t advertise our presence, but we also don’t hide it. Many of our neighbors are very friendly and embracing of what we do, and express their positive regard through friendly interactions without individuals and staff in passing. We also try to keep low profile in situations that could potentially seem intrusive by training our staff regarding good neighbor practices. Such practices include parking responsibly in a manner that doesn’t take up sidewalk space or block mailboxes. We also train our staff to inform their own loved ones who may be picking them up or dropping them off to work at the group home to be quiet with car stereos turned off and not to linger or loiter. We keep our lawns mowed, and our landscaping at a nice level of aesthetic. We pick up unintended trash on our properties and take empty trash cans back in to our garages expeditiously. We train staff to engage in only calm, quiet, and unobtrusive interactions at all times outside the house, and to be friendly to neighbors, even if neighbors come over to our premises to voice concerns. If necessary, a member of our management team will be available to address a neighborhood association meeting to help allay irrational fears held by some about people with intellectual disabilities living in their neighborhoods. Most importantly, we know and are willing to explain to anyone, as a last resort, the protections our individuals have in living in the community under the Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as the Fair Housing Act. In extreme cases, we have fought legal battles and have won. Courtesy and kindness is the name of the game, but we will passionately protect the rights of our individuals to reside in the community like all non-disabled people, if necessary.