Fairfax County Five-Year Consolidated Plan for Fiscal Year 2011-2015 Public Input Forum Helping Persons with Special Needs

Notes From
County Five-Year Consolidated Plan
for Fiscal Year 2011-2015 Public Input Forum

Helping Persons with Special Needs

November 6, 2009, 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.


Group B

Housing, Services and Facility Needs for Other Special Populations


From your perspective, what are the current needs in our community for housing, services, or other facilities for special needs populations?

  • Group homes in Fairfax County, especially for individuals who fall outside Community Services Board (CSB) services; for example, those with developmental disabilities waivers (DD Waivers). 
  • Housing with in-house support services such as counseling for individuals with mental health disabilities and brain injuries.   
  • Housing for seniors with mental health disabilities.
  • Homes with a level of affordability and accessibility that allows residents to remain in them for the long term.
  • Public transportation (accessible); for example, signage for the visually impaired, sheltered and covered bus stops, the addition and improvement of sidewalks, etc., as well as transportation accessibility to other counties such as Loudoun and Prince William.


Are there particular special needs for those leaving an institution or at risk of being placed in an institution?

  • Nursing homes (affordable and accessible) with both personal assistance and independent living support services in Fairfax County.
  • Conduct public hearings (or focus groups) at institutions such as shelters to ensure communication with the “people that matter” and use www.disabilitynavigator.org, a gathering place online, as another way to get people connected to services.
  • Rehabilitative group homes for people with mental health and substance abuse issues who do not have a place to go after being released from adult detection centers. 
  • Transitional housing (supervised) for individuals leaving institutions. 
  • Accommodate non-English speakers.
  • Timely information and access to the stock of affordable and accessible housing; some states require landlords to advertise such units in advance (e.g. information clearinghouse).
  • Evaluate compliance regarding accessibility codes to ensure that we are creating a fuller stock of accessible housing rather than just meeting the minimum 5% standard.  
  • Support services for individuals moving into their homes.  (People are not able to exercise their rights to leave institutions.)


Looking ahead, what do you think will be the important needs for special needs populations in the next five-to-ten years?  (Consider trends occurring in the county.  How do you anticipate the future?) 

  • New units should be built to be accessible. 
  • Peer-to-peer positions rather than new mental health staff positions.
  • Caregivers who can speak English well.
  • Students with disabilities graduating from the LIFE program in public schools should have an opportunity to obtain degrees rather than non-competitive certificates.
  • In-house assistance for seniors who are now living longer.
  • Better wages and benefits for personal support assistants (PSAs) or direct care workers.
  • Support services for people with autism who are graduating from programs and schools and being placed in the community.
  • Creative housing along with minimum or total support services, so that people with disabilities can live as whole citizens.
  • Back-up support services at short notice; for example, when personal assistant is not available.
  • Integrated housing and clusters of support housing for people with cognitive, individual or multiple disabilities.
  • Focus on community building in mixed income areas; for example, libraries and schools.
  • Partnerships with faith-based and nonprofit organizations; for example, donate land, especially in areas with little available land or services. 
  • Hyperthermia services needed.
  • Integrate individuals with a spectrum of disabilities, so that they can help each other.
  • Communication plan; for example, best practices in housing, partnership opportunities, and leveraging of housing and support services. 


For the next five year period, what factors do you think the county should use in deciding which needs to address with limited resources?

  • First priority to individuals with disabilities not institutionalized to ensure full and enhanced housing accessibility and support services, especially those at risk for homelessness and hitting rock bottom without support, a home, and/or job.
  • People at risk for falling ill should be first to receive, for example, H1N1 vaccine. 
  • People in group homes who are costing more than if they remain at home.
  • Change “the have and have-nots perspective” and use non-monetary resources such as energy and time; for example, volunteer groups.
  • Priority should be given to those with the most physical needs, specifically institutional and respite care and support and emergency services.
  • Look at existing systems, for example, CSB mental services waivers. 
  • Look at people within the population who are a risk to themselves and others because of needs and behaviors that cannot be met at home.  Also, benchmark and see what is out there in Fairfax County and nationwide.
  • Look at the gaps preventing people from living in communities independently.  (There is a housing waiting list for people with disabilities, but none for people with disabilities who are stuck in nursing homes.)
  • Priority should be given to using community development funds to build infrastructure, so that people can stay in their homes.
  • Look at people with disabilities who are living at home with their parents, but will eventually be forced into nursing homes.  
  • Housing and support services for children with disabilities who have been abandoned, as well as individuals with traumatic brain injuries.


Group B

Resources, Opportunities and Strategies for Other Special Needs


Comments from the audience on what is working:

  • Getting Food – getting good food has enabled me to come and talk today. Meals on Wheels is working. Proper food and proper housing give a person strength (meeting basic needs). There are still hurdles; it can be difficult to locate meal services. Housing is in undesirable and unsafe areas.
  • Metro Access works well. It does need to expand how far out it will go. Do not raise fees. There is fear that the price will go up and then people cannot afford it.
  • SPARC Program. The SPARC program is wonderful but it needs to extend to five days a week. It is a fantastic program and has saved many lives and it can save more lives. It keeps families together and allows young adults to be out in the community.
  • Disabilities Services Board: thank you for doing community outreach, continue to facilitate and participate with meetings like this.
  • Grateful for programs that help us get jobs (through Mason).
  • Case Management through CSB exists but there are waiting lists. Not all of the information reaches all of the case workers resulting in not all receiving the same information on services. Case Management works well but not all of the needs are being met.
  • Real estate tax exemption for persons who are disabled works well.
  • Create a program where persons with disabilities can own homes, expand those homes to rent to another person with disabilities (expand capacity), allow people to realize appreciation and do upgrades on homes. Allow people to pool assets together to have a home together (e.g. allow this through Housing Choice Voucher homeownership initiatives)


Comments from the audience on what works but needs to be strengthened:

  • Medicare waiver program that provides money that follows the person as they transition to different services is working. Needs improvement: find a way to provide access to housing when the person needs to transition (not a waiting list). There should be a 6 month window to actively work with someone to transition; have transitional living program then on to permanent housing. Increase access to rental subsidies or vouchers.
  • Housing developments like Coppermine are working. To improve there needs to be 24 hour coverage for personal assistance. Need the ability to pull or have on call emergency services. Need support service personal to help live in the community. There are not enough SSP, not enough volunteers, not enough funding (pay is too low).
  • Housing – Individuals who meet all of the requirements to live in housing can’t have someone live with them. There needs to be an allowance for live-in help or a family member who can help. Need to keep people closer to their family.
  • Coppermine/Wesley Housing. Loves the opportunity even if not all of the needs are being met. This housing is great, 2 bedrooms and an aide, but it isn’t appropriate for all disabilities and doesn’t have all the aid one needs.
  • Creative Partnerships, Interfaith partnerships. Wesley Housing can look for other partners to provide services. Lessen bureaucratic obstacles to make partnerships work.
  • Coppermine – it lacks support services. DC has 24 hour on call services if someone doesn’t show. Need a pooling service to cover emergencies. For full independence need service support 24 hours a day. This is a critical component. Full service support can keep people out of nursing homes.
  • We live in a multicultural community. Mental health services need to be available in multiple languages. This will reduce domestic violence and dependency on local shelters.
  • Languages. Need staff who can speak the person’s language. Need continuity of services and not change due to language barriers. More multilingual support with continuity is needed. Multilingual staff must also provide good service to English speakers.
  • Deaf/Hard of Hearing and Vision-impaired services – some very good resources in Fairfax County. Not only need the knowledge of services but need to make sure it is being enforced.
  • Not all business, emergency services, etc., are fully accessible. An able bodied person may be in an accessible room at a shelter so there isn’t a place for the person with disabilities.


Over the next five years what do you see as the greatest opportunity to make changes and improvements:

  • In home services – open the door and see how they are living. People often have too much pride to ask for help. Too many people are on the phones, they lack understanding. Either volunteers or Coordinated Services need to get out.
  • Money follows the person – this doesn’t work with mental health services. If this is the policy then it isn’t functioning.
  • Make information available in different media; recording of this session would be helpful to the visually impaired. Improve audio and written information (not just PDF format on websites).
  • Share information across state and county lines – Arlington has support to keep people in the community and out of the hospital (PACT services).
  • Medicaid Waiver for Mental Health – other states such as Colorado use this; VA needs to do more. Need a county advocate with the state.
  • PACT teams in CSB. There are currently two PACT teams and there need to be more; plan for more vouchers to get another team.
  • People should not judge other people’s disabilities.
  • Need more partnership with the community.
  • Mental Health needs to train more bilingual companions at the community (volunteer?) level.
  • Stimulus fund opportunities.  Lobby to use stimulus funds for programs and services that keep people in their homes. Things like this often get overlooked. It costs more to institutionalize a person; use funds for preventative housing issues.
  • Stimulus fund opportunities.  Over the next five years increase the stock of affordable housing. Offer incentives to builders; if they increase the number of accessible units they will get extra “points” towards winning the bid. Offer incentives to contractors to provide more accessible housing in general.
  • Stimulus fund opportunities.  After 12/31/10 stimulus funds go away. The Commonwealth is talking about cutting Medicaid Waiver services.  We should be building those areas up now with stimulus fund money.
  • Look for other opportunities to use stimulus funds and other ways of working with CCFAC.
  • Improve emergency shelter availability. Increase mixed use development, increase programs like SPARC.
  • Communicate information across all lines, look at best practices from other jurisdictions. Social Workers are over worked. Improve networking and communications. Social Workers help those most in need; improve their support and training.


Was there a need that was not covered?

  • What can be done to make disabled members feel safer at home? Make housing in safe neighborhoods.
  • Provide alternative services/housing while individuals are on a waiting list. Look at supporting individuals more in a way that allows them to stay with their families. Underscore family support.
  • Find better ways for consumer and family to take more responsibility for their own treatment rather than just provide services to them. Change the dynamic of mental health to allow/encourage more individual responsibility for care.
  • Peer support models work but are underfunded.
  • Fully accessible housing works but is not fully integrated into the community.
  • Transportation – not enough accessible housing has adequate public transportation. Housing is too isolated; improve access on all areas – bus stops don’t have covered areas to wait, no sidewalks at bus stops, etc.


Group Summary of Solutions:

  • Identification and compilation of resources available to all
  • Build a better integrated system.
  • Recognize complex and multiple needs
  • Implementation of prevention as a solution, more activities that lead to keeping housing.
  • Increase housing stock/capacity
  • Expand and better align the resources we have.

Additional Testimony Provided


Oral testimony was received from an individual with physical disabilities who is now receiving housing assistance from the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD). She indicated that, due to her physical condition gradually deteriorating, she now needs more accessible housing.  She indicated that she is not being helped by HCD to obtain appropriate housing even though she has made several inquiries and requests to HCD.



Closing Session Suggestions


  • Put Forum notes in HTML or another form of Word when publishing on web site.
  • Blog site for other comments
  • Social networking site for requests for assistance.



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