You may be following Ms. Sinenomine on Twitter, she is an advocate for disabled rights and writes extremely well. She is also an individual that reminds us of our collective responsibilities to ensure that everyone in our society has the same rights and freedoms enjoyed by able bodied persons. In her latest blog entry Ms Sinenomine writes an evocative piece opposing the use of “group homes” for disabled folks which are envisioned in the current rezoning application for the old George Pearson Centre, located in the 500 to 600 block of West 57th Avenue (between Cambie and Oak Streets).
As she notes: Group homes, like other institutions, operate based on the convenience of those working in them. They have shift changes, designated rooms for ‘soiled laundry’ and medications – they are workplaces not homes. Having your own bedroom with your own bathroom is great if you are 16 and living with your parents, it is not independent living for a disabled adult. As a disabled woman who had, and likely will have again, complicated medical needs, I want my own apartment, not a mini-institution with better decor.”
“Thus, unlike many discussions about development in Vancouver, the issue here is not density it’s history. Far too much of the history of disability is one of grave harm in the name of help. Institutions are a large part of why and that history and that harm continues to this day…Most people would agree that in 2017 we should not be building institutions for disabled people. …We need social housing, specifically individual private apartments, for all disabled people – with attendant care as required – integrated into the community.Vancouver should follow best practice and the group home model for disabled people is not best practice and it most definitely is not world class.”
“…There is one other thing about institutions…They erase the boundaries of you until you can’t tell the institution’s ideas from your own. The lesson you learn, sometimes subtly, sometimes directly, is you don’t know what is right for you, they do. ” Miss Sinenomine also notes that cities like Toronto included wheelchair adapted units with on site attendant care in social housing since the 1970’s.”
Should inclusion of group homes in the new George Pearson rezoning be rethought so that disabled individuals can live in units as part of the community, not separated from it?