“We are thrilled with the Governor’s decision,” said Marca Bristo, Access Living’s President and CEO. “The institution represented a threat to people with disabilities who lived there. Closing Howe is the right thing to do.”
Since 2005, 31 Howe residents died. Investigations into the deaths revealed substandard care, including leaving individuals in urine soaked clothing, failing to provide proper nourishment, and falsifying medical documents. Howe was also under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice for violations of the Constitutional rights of Howe residents to stay safe and free from harm. The Department of Justice initiated the investigation after the Federal Government pulled operating funds from Howe because the institution was unable to meet minimum health and safety standards.
“People with disabilities have the right to receive quality support services in communities of their choice,” said Rahnee Patrick, Director of Programs at Access Living. “It’s critical that Illinois offer quality service options in both group and community settings.”
The Governor’s announcement comes in the wake of a ruling to close Howe in April of 2009 by the Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability, and an examination commissioned by Governor Quinn of the quality of care at Howe.
Illinois Plans to transition residents out of Howe into community-based homes and other developmental centers by April of 2010.
“Closing Howe is just the first step,” continued Patrick. “We are committed to working with the State toward ensuring that all of Howe’s residents are provided with quality and safe homes in the future.”
Governed and staffed by a majority of people with disabilities, Access Living is Chicago’s only center for independent living and works toward the full equality, inclusion and empowerment of all people with disabilities. For more information, contact Gary Arnold, Access Living, at 312.640.2199 (voice) or 312.640.2102 (TTY).