Neighborhood Prevails Against Home for Young Men with Autism

In a sorry sequel to our previous story about a New York borough opposed to having a group home for young men with autism in their neighborhood, the non-profit seeking to establish the home has given up and plans to seek a new location. The involved agency, Quality Services for the Autism Community (QSAC) issued the following statement, “It’s unfortunate that there is community opposition to housing for vulnerable people, but that’s the reality in this situation."

Residents of Bellerose in Queens, NY cited concerns about the “potential danger” to children who go to school in the area and use of its school yard after hours. With another group home in the vicinity, they claimed a second one would constitute "oversaturation" of their neighborhood with group homes. Concerned about the quality of life in their community if these individuals with autism lived amongst them, they also feared the men would not be properly supervised.

Director of QSAC, Gary Maffei, countered that workers look after the residents at all times and their other group home six miles away has received zero complaints in its ten years of existence. Their organization works closely with the community to be good neighbors, running 10 other successful homes in Queens and western Long Island.

Many Bellerose residents had called their state representatives to voice their opposition to the home. Citizen complaints of oversaturation of group homes in their area are subject to a statewide review process that normally takes many months, but the decision to vote against QSAC was fast-tracked and announced June 13.

In previous information of this situation, the fact that this proposed home would house a mere eight individuals was not included. This makes the hue and cry against it all the more lamentable. The level of ignorance about autism is tragic and makes me once again aware that amongst everything else, autism is a civil rights issue. Our grown children with autism are neither criminals nor predators and to have valiant efforts to house them as adults thwarted by such baseless fears is very sad indeed.

9 Responses to Neighborhood Prevails Against Home for Young Men with Autism

  1. Debbie K. says:

    So very, very sad. That some of our most vulnerable citizens are viewed as a threat by others is just horrific. Wonder how these folks would feel if they had a child with Autism and wondered where he would be able to live safely without the care of his parents? Just sad.

  2. Susan says:

    I agree. They just don’t have a clue…


  3. wanja says:

    This is really really sad. I am just wondering if these people would change their mind if a member of their family/friend would get a child with autism in the future.

  4. Eva says:

    I’m a Bellerose resident and didn’t even hear about this from our civic association. I would have supported this agency in our neighborhood. Unfortunately, a very vocal minority must have had a strong influence in this instance.

  5. Susan says:

    Wow, Eva. Thanks for lending your support hypothetically.


  6. Veronica says:

    I am a parent of a 16 year old son with Autism! I am shocked and appalled at the level of acceptance and tolerance in this country for individuals with disabilities (specifically autism). There is a greater level of acceptance and tolerance in this country for illegal aliens, individuals who favor the gay lifestyle, people with varying religious views, individuals with different social and political views, etc., etc., etc. However, all of the aforementioned conditions are by choice! Unlike the aforementioned individuals, people with autism did not choose to have this neurological disorder. They are not criminals; they simply want a chance at life, like the rest of us. When we as citizens of this once great nation we call America, start dismissing the God given earthly rights of every citizen due to prejudice and ignorance, then we further demean the standards of living in this country. The diversity that we enjoy as Americans, is what makes this nation unique and great.

    (Quote) ~ The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance. ~ Nathaniel Branden

  7. Susan says:

    I agree with you about everything but the “gay lifestyle” being a choice. Gays don’t choose being gay, it chooses them. Gay youth are kicked out of their homes and sent to live on the streets by their parents, bullied sometimes unto death by their peers, and denied basic rights afforded other citizens. This “choice” affords them one of the highest suicide rates of any group in the country.

  8. Gail says:

    As they say “you can’t fix STUPID”. Autistic people have the same rights that these residents of Bellerose enjoy. A safe home, support and care. I think if I was one of the ones who opposed the group home coming to their neighborhood I would worry about what they may just have to deal with in their future. What comes around goes around. God made all of us and wants us to love and take care of the “special” ones He gives us. One day they just might have to deal with autism and then how are they going to handle it. I’m a very proud mother of an almost 21 year old son with autism.

  9. Susan says:

    Amen. Ignorance and hysteria are so dismaying.

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Did You Know?

  • * In 1970, Autism affected 1 out of 10,000 children
  • * Autism now affects 1 out of 88 children
  • * Autism affects 1 in 54 boys
  • * 1.7 million Americans have some form of autism
  • * 4 out of 5 autistic children are boys

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