Budget cuts may doom East Bay center

July 30, 2009 11:13:38 AM PDT
The state budget signed this week takes more than $200 million out of programs for the developmentally disabled, including the governor's line-item veto of in-home support services. The deep cuts mean a special housing project in Hayward that's nearly complete may sit unoccupied.

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The windows are in, the grout work is done and the wiring nearly complete. All this house needs is a person to call it "home," someone like Katherine.

For many developmentally disabled adults, family support is limited or non-existent. For some, the parents who took care of them all their lives have died.

Called The Village at Walpert Center
, this project would give them a place to live -- as much as they can, on their own.

It's funded with both public and private donations, including from Bay Area builders.

"All of our homebuilders and trades put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into these two beautiful homes and we wanted to make sure they open on time and serve the people we wanted to serve," said Julie O'Connor from HomeAid Northern California.

The two houses are 90 percent complete, but with cuts in state funding, there's not enough money to operate them.

"We're going to need at least $150,000 to open and operate both homes. Our once stable funding source can no longer be relied upon with the state," said Laura Bone from Walpert Center.

The original plan called for five houses to be built, but in the past year funding fell through for all but two.

"Now we hear that the Department of Developmental Services is getting hit by $100 million and that was just the first budget go-around. The second budget go-around was another $234 million," said Dick Fitzmaurice from Arc of Alameda County.

Jean Rolf's daughter Susan was born with Down Syndrome. She is now 59.

"These people deserve the advantages that we all look for, of having a comfortable life in their old age," said Rolf.

Now, it's not clear whether any of these people will ever get the chance to have this comfortable life.

Related Links:
HomeAid
The Village at Walpert Center
The Arc of Alameda County

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