Neighborhood Meeting Focuses On Group Home Concerns - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Neighborhood Meeting Focuses On Group Home Concerns


     Getting it all out in the open. Concerns over group homes in a neighborhood are all put on the table at a community meeting in Davenport Thursday night. Those involved were hoping to find solutions.
     The concerns were brought to KWQC and local officials over the care that's being given to the residents and properties of group homes where home and community-based service agencies provide 24-7 assistance to multiple people with special needs. Neighbors say they've seen staff leave residents unattended, ignore basic sanitation, and worry there's little oversight from the agencies providing the service. It's led to the city looking deeper into these programs and hoping to get more involved.
     Davenport officials say there are more than 100 of these group homes in the city. This all stems from one area in particular on Washington Street in the 4th ward where there are multiple homes neighbors are worried about. It brought together homeowners, city and state officials, agency owners, staff members, legal and civil rights experts, and others for dialogue that was at times very emotional.
      "When they first came there wasn't a problem, this year it's a huge problem," said Sharon Bayer who lives on Washington Street.
     Dozens showed up to the meeting where first, people who live in the neighborhood had a chance to lay it all out. They spoke of issues they've encountered with two separate home and community-based service agencies who care for their neighbors. Bayer says it's a number of different issues she has. "My husband and I have watched one of the residents fall in the pool, we watched one fall out of swinging chair, the cars up and down the street, loud music coming from the house," said Bayer.
     Many worry of the level of care that's being provided. Several homeowners say they've tried to bring this to light with the service providers in the past but it seems there was a kink in the line of communication.  "If you complained to my staff and I didn't hear about it then I have an issue with that," said Mary Allen, owner of Allen Autism Behavioral Consultants/Group Homes.
     "I do everything I can to make them happy, address any issues, and get it done," said one staff member.
     Pat Costigan, Regional Director for REM Iowa Community Services says his agency and staff do have a responsibility to help clients be a good part of a community.
     "In this case we failed. We did not do a good job reaching out to you guys. We can do better and we want to do better," Costigan.   
     Representatives of both agencies say there will be steps taken to better handle issues and complaints, but hope that neighbors are willing to work with them more in the future as well.
     "I don't think there's a staffing problem. Do we have an incident that happens once or twice that's out there, ya. But we're going to learn from those," said Allen.
     The hope is to have a continued open dialogue with state legislators about this because these home and community based service providers are state regulated.  Costigan admitted that some, including this home in particular, don't have to be inspected on a regular basis. The department of Human Services investigates complaints that are made.
      There were questions in regards to regulating where programs can locate. In many cases the residents pay rent and have every right to live where they choose because under the American's with Disabilities Act it's illegal to segregate persons with disabilities.


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