Old White Idahoans Allege Discrimination
BOISE, Idaho (CN) - The Idaho Commission on Aging's distribution of federal money discriminates against white people, the Idaho Council on Governments claims in a federal lawsuit.
The Ida-Ore Planning and Development Association dba Idaho Council on Governments sued Idaho, its Commission on Aging and its administrator and seven-member board.
They claim the formula used to determine allocation of federal money for Idaho's seniors unfairly excludes white people: that it does not comply with the federal Administration on Aging's (AOA) guidelines, depriving "non-Hispanics" equal access to programs.
"Defendant's actions are racially discriminatory, arbitrary, capricious, constitute an abuse of discretion and fail to meet statutory, procedural and constitutional requirements," the complaint states.
The AOA was established under the 1965 Older Americans Act, which aims to provide Americans 60 years old and older with programs and services for their old age.
Under the act, each state is required to designate an agency responsible for splitting the state into service areas called Planning and Service Areas, or PSAs. The Idaho Commission on Aging serves that role in Idaho.
Each of Idaho's six PSAs is run by an Area Agency on Aging (AAA). The Idaho Council on Governments is the designated AAA for PSA III, which consists of Ada, Adams, Boise, Canyon, Elmore, Gem, Owyhee, Payette, Valley and Washington counties.
The Council claims the state's allocation formula does not comply with federal guidelines because it "fails to take into account the geographical distribution of older individuals in the state," and that it "fails to take into account the distribution of individuals aged 60 and older with physical and mental disabilities."
"The general population (i.e. geographical distribution) of Idahoans aged 60 and older is reflected in ... the formula's graphic depiction, but that column is not included in the funding calculation," the complaints states.
The failure to consider these factors has skewed the allocation of funds in Idaho, according to the complaint.
"As a result of defendants' non-compliance formula, no funding is allocated for the population of older individuals who are disabled, nor for those older individuals who: (a) are white, non-Hispanic, or other non-minority persons; and (b) are between the ages of 60 and 74; and (c) live in Kootenai, Latah, Nez Perce, Ada, Canyon, Twin Falls, Bannock, Bonneville or Madison Counties; and (d) do not live alone; and (e) have a household income of more than $15,730," the complaint states.
However, "funding is allocated for minority persons living under exactly the same circumstances," the complaint states.
PSA III doesn't have the funds necessary to meet the demand for services and has been forced to create program waiting lists, the plaintiffs claim.
"Older Idahoans living in PSA III are not provided with an equal opportunity to the full and free enjoyment of a comprehensive array of community-based, long-term care services adequate to appropriately sustain older people in their communities and in their homes, including support to family members and other persons providing voluntary care to older individuals needing long-term care services," the complaint states.
The council claims disproportionate funding for PSA III also makes it impossible to improve programs or create news ones.
"Plaintiff's ability to lead the development or enhancement of comprehensive and coordinated community based systems in, or serving, each community in PSA III has been damaged and continues to be substantially diminished," according to the complaint.
The council seeks an injunction preventing the defendants from allocating the funds using the current formula and declaratory judgment that the formula violates the Older Americans Act.
It is represented by David Leroy, in Boise.
Idaho is 94 percent white, according to the 2010 Census.