Cuts that will destroy lives of the disabled

May 24, 2011

IT'S STILL unclear what the full effects of the cuts to the Department of Developmental Services will look like in California, but the outlook is awful.

I work at an agency that provides community programming and job support to adults with developmental disabilities. Our services have never been fully funded, and the proposed $750 million cut will be devastating if it passes.

My job is to support people with developmental disabilities so that they can lead the lives they want.

Among the real consequences the cuts have on the lives of those I serve, people are being asked to choose between the supports they receive. People who move into or change group homes are only finding places in the remote parts of the city or in outlying areas. This means more commuting and less connection to the community.

Staff are losing their jobs. One of the van drivers that served some of my clients was let go after 32 years on the job. He didn't get severance. Another driver has been told that she'll get laid off next month and is losing the house she raised her kids in.

We have services for people with developmental disabilities because of a fighting disability rights movement. In 1977, 120 activists staged a month-long occupation of the Health, Education and Welfare offices of the federal building in San Francisco, demanding passage of civil rights legislation for people with disabilities.
Mer Stevens, San Francisco

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