Proposed changes would eliminate one group home in Hanover

By Sunni Blevins - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

HANOVER, VA (WWBT) – Some folks in Hanover County are making a final push this weekend asking the board of supervisors to reconsider a proposed change. If adopted one of the county run group homes will be shut down forcing some people to be relocated.

The county says this change is about saving money while making a more efficient environment to serve current clients. Opponents believe this is a major and unnecessary disruption that's affecting some of Hanover's most vulnerable citizens.

23 year old Sarah Chenault lives at a county run group home in Mechanicsville. She has epilepsy and needs consistent care and supervision. Right now, she lives just a few miles away from her family's home and the gym where she volunteers--but that could soon change.

In order to save between $85,000 and $100,000--the community services board has recommended eliminating the county run group home in the Chickahominy District. The four men who live there would move to Mechanicsville--and Sarah and two other women would move to a bigger facility in Montpelier--about 30 miles away. It's something the lifelong Mechanicsville resident is not happy about.

"It's totally unfair to move a person and people to someone that's 30 miles away from where they've lived all their lives," said Sarah.

In response to questions at a public hearing last week, Hanover County leaders said, "This change is meant to reduce expenses and create greater efficiencies while still serving the current 10 clients."

The county will continue to closely monitor any short or long-term demands for group homes and work with non-profit and private sector sources in best positioning such clients for service. Susie Chenault is a concerned mother. She says she knows money is tight and the board of supervisors has a tough job, but she hopes folks who support this effort will let their voices be heard and ultimately hopes the board will reconsider.

"If they support the rights of individuals with disabilities that they let their supervisors know that they stand behind this," Susie said. "These are lives, and I think that people need to speak up."

The board of supervisors is expected to adopt the budget on Wednesday, April 14.

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