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Paul and Hava Forziano married in 2013 and wanted to live together just like any other married couple. Should having a mental disability get in the way?
Prior to their marriage Paul and Hava were living separately in group homes in Suffolk County, New York and after they were married they wanted to live together. The question raised in this ongoing litigation matter is whether they have a right to live together, and if so, are their rights enforceable against a group home.
The U.S. District Court dismissed the case in March based on a failure to show that they were discriminated against based on their disabilities. In April, the couple and their parents filed an appeal to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals (which is currently pending).
Housing is a major concern for young adults with disabilities. Long waiting lists at group homes have left hundreds of adults with special needs in limbo. Many live at home with aging parents who at some point are no longer able to take care of their child. Finding appropriate residency is a struggle, especially for families who are not pro-active and seek housing only when in crisis.
Fortunately for the Fozianos, housing arrangements have been made so they can live together at East End Disability Associates in Riverhead, New York. Notwithstanding, the parents are concerned about housing if in the future they were not able to remain at East End Disability.
The important message here for all parents of adult children with disabilities is that the time to plan is now for the future of your child. You have to be pro-active and educate yourself on what options are available in the community. When working with families in my law practice, the worst case scenario is when there has been no planning and now the parents are gone. What happens next? Who can take care of their child? Where is he or she going to live? Don’t let this happen in your family. See the Academy of Special Needs Planners (www.specialneedsanswers.com) for a list of special needs planning attorneys in your area.