Nysha Recent News

Families’ Robust Advocacy Secures State Approval of Two New Homes for Eight Sons

August 18, 2016

By Mendy Hecht, Hamaspik Gazette

Nod Reflects OPWDD Responsiveness, Sensitivity to Pressing Community Living Needs

Responding attentively and positively to sustained, robust grassroots advocacy by a number of New York families affected by disability, the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) recently approved two new group homes to residentially support those families’ loved ones.

The two new IRAs, for four designated and pre-approved residents each, will house those individuals with disabilities whose families had extensively petitioned the OPWDD in recent months to provide their loved ones with residential supports.

Both IRAs will be built in Orange County and operated by Hamaspik of Orange County.  One is designated for four adults and the other for four youths.

The community-centric Individualized Residential Alternative (IRA) has been the OPWDD’s primary housing model since the early 1990s, furthering the state agency’s decades-long shift away from institutions that actually began in 1974.

In 2011, with institutionalization largely a thing of the past and the majority of New Yorkers with disabilities living in neighborhood IRAs all over the state, the OPWDD announced that it would be closing all its remaining institutions—now called Developmental Centers—by 2017.  (The OPWDD’s decision to eventually convert all existing Intermediate Care Facility (ICF) group homes to IRAs was also announced at the time.)

The green-lighting of not one but two IRAs reflects the OPWDD’s push for ever-greater mainstreaming, an ear keen to community concerns, and an encouraging response to parental advocacy—not to mention a mutually trusting relationship between the state agency and the community non-profit built and reinforced over years of successful services delivery.