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Advocates Tell San Francisco: "Just Say 'NO!' to Laguna Honda"
by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct 16, 2001 -Hundreds of disability rights activists are expected to descend on San Francisco at the end of this week to deliver a message to Californians and especially Mayor Willie Brown.

Follow the daily actions of the protest at http://www.mcil.org/mcil/adapt/lh/

That message reads: "Just Say No to Laguna Honda! Tear Down the Walls!"

Laguna Honda is the largest nursing home in the nation with 1,200 beds. Many of the residents live in rooms with up to 30 other people. It's also one of the most expensive facilities, costing over $90,000 a year per person in 1999, compared to the national average of $40,000, according to the San Francisco Examiner.

The good news that the 132-year-old facility will be torn down.

The bad news is that in November of 1999, San Francisco voters overwhelmingly passed a $299 million bond issue to pay for building a new Laguna Honda. Those plans are moving forward in spite of the world-wide movement away from institutional settings, not to mention federal laws promoting much less costly community supports and the June 1999 U.S. Supreme Court Olmstead decision which ruled that "unnecessarily" institutionalizing people with disabilities violated the Constitution.

The activists from several groups are calling on the city and county to direct resources where they belong and will cost much less -- in the community.

Hundreds are expected from the disability rights group ADAPT, which will hold its Fall Action in San Francisco starting Saturday October 20 through Thursday October 25.

Here are several articles and resources on the struggle against Laguna Honda:

"Nightmare at Laguna Honda" online at http://www.adapt.org/laguna_honda_article.html

For background on the situation at Laguna Honda, check out Marta Russell's article from January 2000 Ragged Edge Magazine: "Stuck at The Nursing Home Door"

In July of 2000, a lawsuit was filed on behalf of 10 people who live at Laguna Honda, claiming that the City and County of San Francisco violated their constitutional rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act by pouring resources into rebuilding the facility rather than providing community-based alternatives. Read the July, 17, 2000 San Francisco Chronicle story, "Suit Says City Violates Disability Laws"

In August of this year, a U.S. District Court judge upheld the rights of those people to move forward with the suit, after the city and county had asked to have it dismissed.

How can you help if you are not going to San Francisco? Here is a petition you can fill out to show your support.

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