Statement on Passage of HB 1329

It is disappointing that the Arkansas House of Representatives voted 89-0 to put $7.7 million into an outdated facility while over 3,100 Arkansans are on an eight year waiting list for services with the passage of HB 1329. The Booneville Human Development Center houses 127 residents and has an annual cost of over $16 million. A task force has said it would take over $20 million to improve the facility. Disability Rights Arkansas has previously requested that the state halt new admissions to this facility and begin a 12 to 18 month phase out of the facility. The $7.7 million should have been used to provide services for those who have been on the waiting list longest. In Arkansas the majority of those who meet the level of care offered at the Human Development Centers choose to live in the community. As of December only 917 people reside in the Human Development Centers while over 4,000 Arkansans already receive services in the community. The state continues to pit the needs of the 7,000 people who choose to live in the community against those that are currently residing in the facilities. Arkansans with developmental disabilities want the freedom to choose where they live, to choose where they eat and to choose where they pray. It is time for Arkansas to make forward thinking changes and follow states like Oklahoma and Alabama who have phased out these outdated facilities.