As mentioned in the President’s Message earlier in this newsletter, several of our organizational leaders have been engaging in conversations with local representatives of OPWDD, (Office of Persons with Developmental Disabilities). Over the course of several months, we have been successful in requesting and participating in meetings with this office. (THIS, alone, is significant…as past efforts to obtain a response to our communications and requests have been less than successful).
We are also happy to report that the “relationships” that we have been building during these meetings have been positive. We have found that the OPWDD representatives with whom we have been meeting have been receptive and responsive to our questions and dialogue. Our first meeting led to our ability to build an understanding with them surrounding our needs, interests and concerns. When the present representative did not have answers, she took copious notes, confirmed that she would do some research and meet with us again. We brought that June meeting to a close with another meeting already in the calendar.
During our August meeting, another ‘more well-versed’ representative joined us to discuss the research results and understandings that were available to them based on knowledge and experience. Similarly, a September meeting also included some additional professionals who have experience in our focus.
The good news – we feel very good about the conversations and OPWDD’s reception of our work. They conveyed support and acknowledged the dedication to our vision. The GREAT news – they did confirm that when we are able to bring our vision to fruition, our residents WILL be able to use their subsidies if they apply individually for their individual apartments. OPWDD also confirmed that the AMD of March 2022 effectively lifted and removed the 25% settings cap that would previously have prevented our efforts to create the community of our choice. So that’s the great news.
The struggle that continues is that OPWDD confirmed (even though we pushed hard on the parameters and interpretation) that IF we were to use public (government funds), that the settings cap on residential availability remains at 30%. They have explained that this is really the result/influence of the federal guidelines that control these monies and their distribution. To that end, we have once again affirmed that if we want to bring the Home of My Own of WNY vision to life – we have to bring this to life without government funding options at this time. This understanding continues to affirm the direction of a philanthropic fundraising focus at this time.