Location of respite home raises resident concern
The home at 52 Dixon, was formerly a residential home, but was recently sold. The home will now be used as a respite home for the developmentally disabled children.
The respite home, purchased by Community Services for the Developmentally Disabled, will provide respite care to young people less than 22 years old. It is intended to provide parents of disabled children a break, whether it be for a few hours during the day or throughout the duration of the night.
A handful of residents expressed their concerns regarding the value of their homes reducing; the street becoming a heavy traffic area; the possibility of the developmentally challenged children becoming violent in the neighborhood; the size of the backyard and whether or not it would suffice for this use with so many children; and the consistency of noise throughout the night was also a concern.
Many residents feel this home will now operate as a business and should be located in a commercially zoned area in the town, and not in a residential neighborhood.
Although residents feel they should have been involved in this decision because it pertains to their neighborhood, the purchase of the home and its future intent legally does not involve the neighbors or the neighborhood. The new owners do not have to inform or notify anyone regarding the use of the home.
Prior to speaking with Kari Heigl, director of funding and development at Community Services for the Developmentally Disabled, the board had similar concerns regarding what was going to take place at the home, however, after Heigl touched base on the intent of the organization the board’s concerns were greatly diminished.
“Families in this area are significantly missing out on the opportunity to use a respite home. We currently provide respite services at a home on Kenmore Avenue, but it only accommodates one person over night,” said Heigl.
She went on to say, “Respite provides a break for families for the care of their loved ones. For instance, if someone goes to a funeral out of town for a few days we provide over night care. Or if someone has to work until 5 a.m.,” said Heigl.
The home can legally provide 30 consecutive days by law to a family in need. Governor Andrew Cuomo set this as a priority in Western New York, because it is highly in need of this service.
“We have been doing this [providing respite services] for more than 20 years,” said Heigl. “As far as purchasing the home within 40 days - we jumped on it. It’s a beautiful home and can house four children over night in the future.”
Any child can be put on the waiting list at a respite home, the intent is to serve families who do not get services elsewhere.
Heigl noted a few items on the list of concerns, among those were the amount of people coming and going on an average day.
There will be no more than four children under the age of 22 staying over night, no more than six children that have developmental disabilities taking part in the after school program at one time, and no more than 10 children at the home throughout the day.
Other concerns she addressed and responded to included the following:
• The value of the homes does not reduce as a result of this;
• There will be a maximum of five vehicles in the area;
• There will be a minimum of one staff member to three individuals;
• There will always be at least one overnight staff at the house, unless more are needed. For example, if an individual needs wheelchair assistance then two staff members will be provided.
• There are about seven respite homes in WNY, however they are not located nearby.
There are plans to make renovations to the house in order to meet all handicapped accessible needs. There are currently four bedrooms in the home, and the current dining area will be turned into a first floor bedroom; wheel cheer accessible ramps will be installed; the bathroom will be made handicapped accessible and the garage will be fully finished for help in teaching these students basic life skills.
The children can be from anywhere in WNY and they will be addressed depending on how desperate their needs are.
Councilman John Bargnesi personally felt better about the home after speaking with Heigl and he believes the residents who live in the neighborhood will also soon be on board with the change.