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Letter: New York must increase funding to help disabled

New York must increase funding to help disabled

As a member of an aging family with a sibling who has special needs, I recently learned that New York State is dismantling programs that help care for and protect the disabled. Can you imagine being an aging parent who must worry about who will care for your disabled child when you die? This is a reality for a growing number of families in New York State.

According to the Developmental Disabilities Alliance of Western New York (DDAWNY), there are over 12,000 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities on the Office for Persons with Developmental Disabilities residential registry waiting list, with less than 1,000 new beds projected over the next three years.

You don’t need to be a mathematician to know that there is a severe problem on the horizon to house and care for those most vulnerable members of our society.

In Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s own words, “People with disabilities have the right to receive services and supports in settings that do not segregate them from the community; it is a matter of civil rights.”

Despite the fact that there is more than a $7.5 billion surplus in the state budget, neither the Assembly nor the Senate has recommended additional funding for services for people with developmental disabilities!

Without providing funding to care for the growing needs of our disabled population, these most vulnerable members of society will be left homeless, abandoned, hospitalized, incarcerated or worse.

According to DDAWNY, adding $30 million in funding for development for people living at home with aging caregivers, especially 24/7 residential opportunities for the 6,500 individuals seeking housing now or within two years, is urgent. That $30 million is less than one half of 1 percent of the $7.5 billion surplus.

It’s time for Cuomo to back up his words with actions.

Joe Ryba