Illinois Settles Suit Over Housing for Disabled

     CHICAGO (CN) – U.S. District Judge James Holderman approved a settlement requiring Illinois to move hundreds of people with developmental and mental disabilities into community homes and other types of housing of their choice.

     The plaintiffs, a class including all developmentally disabled adults in Illinois, initially filed suit in 2005, arguing that, by failing to provide adequate housing options, the government violated Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and other federal statutes.
     Nearly six years later, the case has settled with a decree that ensures the state’s population of mentally disabled people will see a gradual transition to primarily “community service providers,” which are funded by waivers, as well as state-operated centers.
     The defendants must now maintain “a statewide database in which all Class Members are enrolled,” according to the judge’s order certifying the settlement.
     Within six years, according to the decree, all class members who are interested in doing so “will transition to Community-Based Settings.”
     But other subgroups will receive placement sooner. For example, at least one-third of class members in privately run “intermediate care” facilities must be transitioned within 2 1/2 years.
     Still, the settlement leaves plenty of room for interpretation. Holderman noted that the state’s new “commitment does not entitle an Individual with Developmental Disabilities to receive services in a specific [facility],” and that “[d]efendants shall implement sufficient measures to ensure the availability of services.” These measures may include “supports and other resources of sufficient quality,” which the parties still must sort out.
     A third-party monitor will help ensure compliance with the decree. “The Court shall appoint an independent and impartial Monitor who is knowledgeable concerning the management and oversight of programs serving Individuals with Developmental Disabilities,” Holderman added.
     The parties will work with the monitor to develop standards of evaluation in the coming months.

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