Families served by the Connecticut Department of Developmental Services (DDS) are accustomed to holding their breath on the eve of State budget proposals. Over the years, the State budget has resulted in drastic cuts to DDS services, most profoundly impacting individuals seeking residential supports. These budget cuts, year after year, yielded major deficits in housing options and supports. Today, there is a decades-long (or more) waiting list for individuals with intellectual disabilities seeking housing outside of their family home.
After reviewing Governor Lamont’s proposed budget, I could faintly hear the collective sigh of relief shared by DDS families across the State. The proposed budget does not cut DDS funding, but in fact, would increase funding for residential services. The proposal seeks to chisel away at the current housing gap by developing 70 supported apartments for individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism. These units would include comprehensive disability-related services such as in-home supports, case management, and rental assistance. In addition, the proposed budget would maintain current DDS funding aimed at providing supports to individuals rated as “emergencies” on the residential waiting list.
The budget must ultimately be approved by the legislature before it is set in stone. Until then, DDS families will once again hold their breaths—this time, with positive anticipation of a smoother residential road ahead.