By Arshi Pal, Esq., and Sandi Rosenbaum, Special Education Advocate
On December 18, 2017, New York State Governor, Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the State has awarded $58.9 million to 53 partner agencies, to create 83 certified residences for 459 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, in the first phase of a multi-year initiative. New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), the state agency which coordinates services for individuals with such disabilities, is addressing a longstanding need for housing for individuals whose needs can no longer be met in the family home. Many such individuals currently reside with aging parents or other caregivers who can no longer provide appropriate support. Certified housing—which primarily includes group homes (IRAs), provides various levels of support, including 24/7 staffing and supervision when appropriate, to individuals with disabilities based on their unique needs.
The State is partnering with various agencies to operate and develop new OPWDD certified housing during this multi-year initiative. A panel consisting of regional office staff and stakeholders, including families, chooses the agencies through a competitive process. The housing opportunities announced in December and ready to be funded for development will serve approximately 250 individuals across the Hudson Valley, New York City, and Long Island. Some of the agencies chosen in New York City and the Hudson Valley include the Young Adult Institute, Services for the Underserved, and Abilities First. (To see a complete list of the agencies selected, click here).
This investment will help address the shortage of safe homes with appropriate support for individuals with disabilities. OPWDD Commissioner Kerry A. Delaney stated, “ensuring that the individuals we support have a home where they can receive appropriate and timely services tailored to their specific needs is vital to our mission of ensuring that people we support live richer lives.”
In order to apply for these housing opportunities, an individual will have to be eligible to receive OPWDD supports and will need to seek authorization for such opportunities through OPWDD. To receive benefits from OPWDD individuals must undergo the eligibility review process, which requires a submission of documents and may include an in person interview. To access specific benefits, individuals may need Medicaid coverage or to meet other requirements. Keep in mind that New York State has specific regulatory rules for the type of housing individuals may reside in to receive benefits. Applying for OPWDD benefits can be a daunting task. If you require assistance, contact an experienced Special Needs Planning Lawyer today.