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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

September 2, 2013 at 7:03 AM

Caring for the disabled in Washington

Nice idea, in theory

A recent Seattle Times editorial called for the closure of state-run residential habilitation centers (RHCs) for people living with developmental disabilities. [“Editorial: Reset inequity for state’s most vulnerable,” Opinion, Aug. 25.]

The resulting cost savings would then be directed toward reducing the number of eligible people on waiting lists for needed services.

On the surface, this is a laudable plan. However, the simple logic of a well-intentioned strategy doesn’t hold up well when one examines the cost savings of moving people from institutions and into the community more closely.

Make no mistake; for most people, we favor community living over RHCs.

What we do not support is the logic of creating the savings by shifting care to supported-living agencies whose workers receive shamefully low wages. These workers, according to the 2011 Residential Survey published by the Developmental Disabilities Administration, make an entry level wage of $9.88 per hour, versus $13.32 per hour for state workers doing essentially the same work. This is a difference of 35 percent.

While we strongly favor community-support options that allow more people with disabilities to live in homes of their own, we do not support doing this by creating more overburdened and underpaid workers.

Lyle Romer, executive director of Total Living Concept, Kent

Comments | More in Economy, Health care, Seattle | Topics: community, cost, developmental disabilities

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