An Advocate’s Voice: A Challenge to our Society

Housing is an essential right to everyone regardless of disability and with Governor Christie’s plan supporting the closing of two state developmental institutions in New Jersey and the long waiting list of people with disabilities waiting to receive services helping them achieve normal and productive lives as equal citizens around the nation it increases a stronger demand for more affordable and accessible housing, but with SSI only paying about $ 726.00 to $850.00 per month, people with disabilities struggle to maintain affordable housing in the community because the rent is simply too high.
In NJ with property taxes and rent being so high it is very difficult for anyone to afford an apartment now a days. SSI should pay people with disabilities enough to afford these places or new law should be passed to ensure that landlords simply lower the costs to people with disabilities so they can afford to pay their rent using their benefits and have enough to buy other things needed to survive in society, such as personal hygiene products.
With developmental centers closing, it save the government more money and that money could and should be used for creating more affordable housing to support community living. The closing of institutions is vital because it gives people a choice and allows people with disabilities to achieve their goals and reach their full independent potential while living and contributing to society. Living in institutions robs individuals of that right to live their own lives and reach their potential. Living in institutions also keeps  individuals secluded and segregated from society and creates huge barriers as to their access to independence.

We as society need to change our ignorant ways on how we view people with disabilities. I challenge society to not  look at their limitations, and rather look at what they can do and how they can contribute to society. Institutions were original created to keep people with disabilities away from society because at the time society viewed them as unfit and did not  want and could not support  people with disabilities in the community. At that time is was thought to be the best place for them to live. Fast forward to 2013 where there are more choices and services available to deal with the needs of the disability community. In other words institutionalizing people with disabilities is a thing of the past and that support services  and concerned parents need to learn how to adapt to changes and get with the times.

This is a time for community integration. It is our future and institutions are a thing of the past. Thirteen other states closed institutions entirely and they’re doing just fine-  if they can do it so can we. It’s time we stop making excuses and making decisions for others without others and give the disability community a choice to live outside those prison walls of an institution.

While most parents rant and rave about their children not being able to do “this and that” we simply can prove you wrong. We serve the same kind of people in the community as in institutions there is no excuse of why they can’t succeed in the community. Let the people with disabilities live their own lives for once. How can you know your child’s true potential when you never gave them a chance? Most just threw them away in institutions and said “good luck.” Let’s give every brother and sister in our society a good opportunity to live in the community.

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