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MR Update #05-02: Altoona Hearing and Statistics, PA Housing Finance, LEVOXYL Alert, and Go Direct Campaign
January 24, 2005

Altoona Center Hearing
Public Hearings will be held on January 25 at 6:00 p.m. regarding the closure of Altoona Mental Retardation Center. The Department of Public Welfare (DPW) plans to begin closure of the facility during 2005 for the 90 residents. Plans are to initially move 45 of the residents into community settings and transfer the remaining 45 to Ebensburg Center until placements can be found for them. Office of Mental Retardation (OMR) Deputy Secretary Casey has indicated Ebensburg Center will be open for at least the next few years since it is the only center in the region. He predicts that in the next decade or two the state will no longer need centers. The cost per resident averages $160,000 per year and the money allocated for their care at the center will follow them into the community to assure proper accommodations.

The 90 residents are from 24 counties. (8-Bedford; 1-Somerset; 18-Blair; 11-Cambria; 2-Cumberland; 1-Fulton; 2-Mifflin; 1-Juniata; 1-York/Adams; 1-Chester; 3-Delaware; 1-Montgomery; 14-Philadephia; 6-Allegheny; 1-Armstrong; 1-Indiana; 3-Butler; 1-Elk; 3-Clearfield; 2-Crawford; 1-Erie; 2-Forest/Warren; 1-Lawrence; 1-Potter; 1-Washington; 2-Westmoreland)

PA Housing Finance
The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) has created a new housing services representative position to improve access to affordable and accessible housing for persons with disabilities. The goal of the position is to identify existing barriers that prevent people with disabilities from living in the community of their choice and to work with local/state partners to overcome those barriers. For additional information contact Lisa Case, PHFA housing services representative at 717-780-1808 or lcase@phfa.org.

Ticket to Work
In December 2004 Social Security celebrated the fifth anniversary of the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999. In conjunction with Ticket to Work, the Ticket to Hire Program links employers to employment networks in their communities that have motivated, qualified candidates with disabilities who want to work. For additional information contact 866-889-4473 or access www.socialsecurity.gov/work.

Drug Alert
DPW has issued a Drug Alert for LEVOXYL which is a thyroid supplement made by Jones Pharma Inc. A number of people have reported choking, gagging, and dysphagia when taking these pills that can swell rapidly. LEVOXYL must be taken with water to prevent it getting stuck in the throat.

President’s Committee Report
The President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities has released its 70-page report, A Charge We Have to Keep: A Road Map to Personal and Economic Freedom for Persons with Intellectual Disabilities in the 21st Century. To download the report access www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/pcpid/2004_rpt_pes/2004_PCPID_Report.pdf.

Go Direct
Go Direct is a marketing campaign to motive more individuals to direct deposit their federal benefit payments, such as socialsecurity income (SSI) or socil security disability income (SSDI). If agencies are interested in partnering to publicize this effort access www.GoDirect.org or call 800-333-1795. The key messages to Go Direct are:

  • It’s safer
  • It’s faster
  • It’s easier.

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