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The Ridgmar Neighborhood Association.

In July of 1991 the Tarrant County Mental Health-Mental Retardation (MH-MR) Services proposed to purchase a house in the Fort Worth, Texas neighborhood of Ridgmar. The house was intended to be a group home for six young adults with mental retardation. The house would cost $215,000 plus an estimated $10-15,000 for renovations. It was in a beautiful upper class professional neighborhood and would meet all the criteria (see box) the MH-MR had set for a group home. The proposal was brought up for approval. Then things began to get ugly.

"Big Brother finally invades Ridgmar" was the headline on a flyer which was distributed throughout the neighborhood. It called the group home a "social experiment" at the "taxpayers' expense" and said it would hurt property values. Another flyer appeared implying that the home would be a "half-way house" for "paroled convicts, drug addicts, and mentally retarded." It also hailed the group home as "a total and unnecessary waste of our valuable resources."

The Ridgmar Neighborhood Association President Joe Wagner and 25 other homeowners filed suit against the MH-MR. Our efforts to reach Wagner were unsuccessful.

On August 1, 1991, the MH-MR voted unanimously to spend up to $210,000 to buy the house. Since that vote, most of the controversy has disappeared. The first person moved in on October 1, 1991. Yet the story continues in in Texas as group homes are being proposed in Dallas and Corpus Christi. Kathy Hurt of the Dallas ARC said that the furor in Ridgmar has died down and the "neighbors are being neighborly." Hurt added, "In Dallas, the neighbors requested a meeting with the staff of the Dallas MH-MR. We are still wondering if we should educate the public or just go into the neighborhoods"

People have the right to voice their objections. However, launching nasty attacks like the malicious flyers that were distributed in this case goes beyond decency and respect for individuals. It is sad to see that there are still people who are so intolerant. "People who are retarded have every right to live wherever they want," Hurt concluded.
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Title Annotation:Hall of Shame, part 1; opposes group home for mentally retarded adults
Publication:The Exceptional Parent
Date:Oct 1, 1991
Words:351
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