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.