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NYS sued over housing availability for the developmentally disabled

Posted: 6:54 PM, Sep 14, 2016
Updated: 2016-09-14 18:54:30-04

It’s a thought that crosses the mind of just about every parent; what happens to my child when I’m gone? But for the parent of a child living with a developmental disability, it’s a question that often has no concrete answer.

“It’s a crisis right now for adults with disabilities that need a placement as their parent’s grow older, it’s very difficult, Cheektowaga mom Debbie Cordone tells 7 Eyewitness News.

Cordone’s son James is 10 years old and is living with severe autism.

She says her son has uncontrollable outbursts where, at times, he is a danger to himself or those around him. So as Debbie’s son gets bigger and stronger, she and her husband have had to make a crucial decision.

“We actually had to make a decision on a group home for James,” Cordone said.

“We always knew that would be the case.”

But for thousands of families in New York state access to those homes – safe, nurturing settings for those unable to care for themselves - is simply nonexistent.

Buffalo based attorney Bruce Goldstein is looking to change that.

Goldstein is special council on a class action lawsuit filed against Governor Andrew Cuomo and the acting Commissioner of the Office for Persons with Developmental Disability.

The lawsuit is first of its kind to seek suitable housing for people with disabilities over the age of 21. The suit claims nearly 50 percent of these individuals are being cared for by caregivers over 60 years old.

“New York use to be a place that everybody looked to and admired because of how it tried to address the needs of people with disabilities,” Goldstein told 7 Eyewitness News.

The class action suit filed this week represents more than 2,000 families in Western New York.

Both Goldstein and Cordone agree, something needs to be done to give caregivers peace of mind.