The Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition OPPOSES Senate Bill 14-078
Nothing About Us, Without Us
Julie A. Reiskin, Executive Director
Kevin W. Williams, Legal Program Director
655 Broadway, Suite 775
Denver, Colorado 80203
303-952-0528 (Video Phone)
February 4, 2014
The Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition OPPOSES SB 14-078. This bill moves away from the state policy of integrated services and seeks to create a space for congregate living situations and home that have between 4-8 people with disabilities. We are not sure of the exact purpose; we were told this was necessary to allow people to apply for food stamps.
There are a number of problems with this proposal:
1) It is not needed to allow people to apply for food stamps. Anyone in a living situation where room and board are included cannot use food stamps, as this will be double dipping. Any adult who lives in the community and supports himself or herself is eligible to apply for and receive food stamps either as a household of one, or as part of a family. If they share and prepare food with others with whom they live, they apply as a unit. If not, they apply individually. All that is needed is to provide roommate agreements, or a lease, or proof that they are not receiving food or financial support from the others with whom they live. It is a cost benefit decision and lifestyle decision for each individual and group living together to determine whether or not they want to share food.
2) Decades of experience tell us that having more than 4 people with the same kind of needs in a home does not work, eight is impossible to have a quality of life. We have been working to reduce the number of unrelated people living together especially if there is no choice in who lives with whom.
3) Federal regulations from the Center for Medicaid and Medicare services just released are clear about what can and cannot be defined as a home and community based setting. Larger facilities may not quality under the new regulation and once a transition period is over, NO Medicaid dollars will be allowed to be expended for placements that do not meet the new standards. This bill could lead people to believe that there will be resources to support such a facility—this is misleading and could cause unsuspecting developers to lose a lot of money.
4) If the issue is truly about benefits, a better bill would be language that says for the purposes of application for all public benefits any adult with a disability living with other adults with disabilities, other than married individuals shall always be considered a household of one. CCDC believes unrelated adults are already able to be counted as a household of one currently, but if this is not clear, then clarify simply. SB 14-078 as written gives the false impression that the state approves of large residential facilities and without targeting one disability group or type (developmental disabilities).
For these reasons CCDC opposes SB 14-078. We appreciate that Senator Renfroe was likely trying to help, but ask that this legislation be postponed indefinitely. CCDC works with a large coalition of disability organizations and between all of us there is always someone capable of providing this kind of input at the time of development in the future. We extend an offer to the sponsor and any other Senator to contact us at any time.