Last week, Gov. Chris Christie conditionally vetoed legislation that would have limited the state’s ability to move people with intellectual disabilities into group homes. The vetoes applied to two separate bills: S-2158/A-3418 and S-2249/A-3475. The first bill would have put a moratorium on residents at out-of-state facilities being transferred back to New Jersey. The second would have required that residents of developmental centers slated for closure remain within 30 miles of those facilities.
Christie administration officials have argued that although it is understandable for families to be worried about their loved ones, the options for community placement in the state have increased substantially and oversight of community residences has become much more stringent in recent years. They note that in most cases, it is beneficial for those with disabilities to live in the community, rather than in institutions. The state, they say, needs maximum flexibility in this process.
But many families fear that community group homes will not provide the support and services necessary – and point to two recent deaths as examples of what could happen. What’s more, they are concerned about their loved ones being ripped from the only homes they’ve known and in many cases, put somewhere where it is difficult for their families to visit them frequently.