Providers struggle fo find sites for group homesYour...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

April 26, 1999

Providers struggle fo find sites for group homes

Your article ("Balto. County has the most group homes," April 11) about the concentration of group homes in Baltimore County didn't really get to the heart of the struggle that providers have in siting group homes for people with disabilities. Social, political and economic barriers all combine to limit the choices that providers have in locating housing for the folks we serve.

As the article suggests, the lack of decent, affordable housing plays a role in where homes are located. Providers would love to move into more affluent communities, but the public monies that support their programs just aren't enough to make that possible.

There has been a move to less concentrated models of support for the disabled, but those models are less efficient and more costly. The same people who complain about the concentration of group homes would yell just as loudly about the increased taxes necessary to fund the programs more adequately.

And when providers attempt to locate in more well-to-do areas, such as Worthington Valley, they are generally met by well-to-do opposition, causing costly delays and legal fees that operators can't afford.

Unless we return to the days of large institutions, or begin shipping our troubled kids out of state again, we will need to find a place in the community for people with disabilities. Until communities embrace those with differences, we will continue to need strong federal protection of their right to live in communities with the supports they need.

But today no community wants to host these people. As long as this remains the case, a strong Fair Housing Act will be essential.

Scott Graham

Catonsville

The writer is president and chief executive officer of ReVisions Behavioral Health Systems.

Communities' rights need protection, too

The controversy over group homes for juvenile offenders in residential neighborhoods will not be resolved until the laws that now protect group homes also protect the rights of the community.

Amendments to the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act now make it impossible to protest having group homes in residential neighborhoods. The law protects the group home and its operations, not the homeowners and the community.

Moving troubled juveniles into group homes may have begun as a benevolent act to encourage family life and save the government money by closing large institutions. But they've become a major problem for communities and a big business for the operators of the homes.

Changes are needed in the operation, regulation and placement of juvenile group homes.

It's time to demand that our legislators change the related laws so that they also protect the rights of homeowners.

Janet Saltzman

Owings Mills

More guns won't make our streets safer

In his letter, "Concealed weapons: protection or threat?" (April 17) Sanford Abrams argues that we would be safer if more people walked around with guns in their pockets.

What allowing people to carry concealed weapons would really mean is: more guns out on the streets; more guns easily found by curious young children; more guns that could be used against police officers stopping speeding motorists; more guns at hand when someone's anger gets the better of him; more guns easily available to those contemplating suicide; more heavily armed criminals, and even more school shootings like the one in Colorado.

Every day I hear about babies who aren't even safe from bullets in their own cribs, or playing on their front steps; about places where first graders have to go through metal detectors; where teen-agers lose their lives to gun violence because others cannot handle their rage.

It is truly naive and dangerous to think that more guns equals security. I do not want my grandchildren to grow up in a world that is heavily armed.

Jeanne M. Ruddock

Baldwin

German culture not cause of school shooting

The interest that the teen-agers in the Littleton, Colorado high school shootings showed in the Nazi past and in the German language was particularly distressing to teachers of German.

While our hearts go out to the victims and their families, and we acknowledge the toxicity of Hitler, the Third Reich and the Holocaust, we are concerned that Americans today have little impression of contemporary Germany beyond these stereotypes.

Modern Germany is an increasingly multi-ethnic and tolerant democracy with a cultural heritage that includes the humanity of Goethe, the ethical principles of Kant and the ennobling music of Beethoven -- as well as the rantings of the Fuhrer.

The outrages committed by these children were much more the result of America's fascination with guns and violence, and with domestic ethnic tensions, than of their interest in things German -- which were nothing more than ready-made props.

Michael T. O'Pecko

Baltimore

The writer is a professor in the German department at Towson University.

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