DISABLED: Bill Threatens Housing Rights
A bill introduced by U.S. Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA) "would give state or local government a say in where group homes" for the mentally disabled can be located, the Bergen Record reported Wednesday. The bill "'reasonably requires the dispersal' of group homes," and "would restrict how the disabled could fight for their civil rights." Bilbray's proposal would delay federal-level challenges to state or local laws "restricting group homes" until "the challenger [has] exhausted every available state and local administrative procedure."
NIMBY In New Jersey
New Jersey state Sen. Gerald Zecker (R) supports Bilbray's bill, saying "such measures are needed to prevent the clustering of group homes in neighborhoods and communities." Zecker has introduced legislation in the New Jersey Legislature to help Clifton, NJ, residents fight the establishment of more group homes "in their neighborhood." But advocates for the disabled criticized the measure, saying it "would allow communities to routinely block group homes through zoning regulations." Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law's Michael Allen called Bilbray's bill "the greatest assault of the bedrock civil rights law in 30 years." Community Health Law Project's David Lazarus said, "This bill focuses on a particular group of individuals and treats them different than other folks" (Chadwick, 8/19).