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Dozens rally in St. Paul for more group home funding

Mid-morning headline from June 24, 2022
Mid-morning headline from June 24, 2022 02:55

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Dozens rallied outside of the governor's residence Friday morning calling for change and support for the state's most vulnerable - those in long-term care and group homes.

ACR Group Homes leaders said the state is facing a disability services disaster. 

They said more than 170 group homes have closed across the state since last October and another 60 are on the verge of closing. 

"The goal here, I think is for the legislature, legislative leaders and Governor Tim Walz to see that there are real world consequences happening for their inaction," said Gene Leistico, COO of ACR Group Homes.

The struggle has led to many people with disabilities being uprooted and displaced and not getting the adequate care they need.

"Sheryl has seizures she has problems with her urinating, she has problems with her stools," Gerald Strenger said of his daughter Sheryl. "There's all kinds of things that would not be taken care of except in a home like this. That's what's sad. That's what's frightening."

Among their demand is more funding especially for care workers.

"I'm looking forward to returning to our home but we're only able to return once we have a sufficient number of staff," said Shaina Briscoe of Golden Valley who had to move group homes earlier this year.

"My biggest fear is that my son won't have a place to live and he could live with us, but that would mean I am quitting my job," said Michele Pederson of her son. "It means stability goes away from him and he doesn't have a life."

Lawmakers from both sides were at the event. They said this is a nonpartisan issue. They've proposed $350 million over three years, but they said the governor has made multiple offers of only $100 million. They're hoping the governor sees the need and they can come together to agree on an adequate dollar amount and potentially hold a special session and get the legislation passed. 

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