Letter to the editor: Baldwin’s group-home plan is discriminatory
I am writing to express serious concern about the proposal being considered by the Baldwin borough council to add unnecessary, burdensome, discriminatory and illegal layers of government regulation onto community (group) homes for people with intellectual disabilities and others.
The article “Baldwin looks to set rules for group homes” (July 12, TribLIVE) states the would-be ordinance requirements would include code inspections, registration with the borough, and proof of licenses and background checks for all employees. Additional new requirements would include permits, registering occupants of the home and direct support professionals who work in the home, and proof of sufficient sewer and water facilities.
First, it’s important to know that the agencies providing services are licensed annually through the state Department of Human Services, and licensed community homes are already subject to rigorous regulations from the state, including background checks and safety inspections. More importantly, these requirements will violate the federal Fair Housing Act.
Borough officials claim the ordinance “is designed to prevent any recurrence of the problem” that occurred on Dec. 17, 2017, when one community home employee fatally shot his co-worker. The ordinance under consideration could not have prevented the tragedy.
People with disabilities living in their homes deserve to be treated as our neighbors, not targeted with unwarranted government overreach. If Baldwin wants to target violence and criminal activity, then please do so — but leave our fellow citizens with intellectual disabilities out of it.
The writer is president of The Arc of Greater Pittsburgh/ACHIEVA ( www.achieva.info ).