Residents Concerned About Patient Group Home - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

04/14/04

Residents Concerned About Patient Group Home

Folks in Windsor Forest are upset over their newest neighbor. Just last month, United Cerebral Palsy of Georgia set up a group home in the community. But the newest resident to move in to this suburban paradise is not getting a warm reception.

"The fear is that this neighborhood will change," said resident Marva Clapp.

Neighbors say the group home is already changing what they knew and loved about their neighborhood.

"I think that many people, that many cars on the street, to me it brings the neighborhood down," said resident Harriet Kilbourne.

Kilbourne says, since the home opened, she is seeing more and more congestion in the once peaceful neighborhood. "It's a business, not a home," she said.

Marva Clapp, who lives across the street, agrees. "How can they put a business in a residential area?" she asked.

But officials from the group home say they are not a business, they are like a family and all they need is a chance. "We'll be good neighbors," said United Cerebral Palsy of Georgia's Pat Cuminsky. "This house is going to look better than any other around the block. It's a normal home."

Only four patients actually live in the home with a staff of 12 working around the clock to see to their needs. They say this place is a lot better for their patients than an institution.

Still, residents worry their newest neighbor will drop their property values. "It's been a good family mix and that takes away from that," said Clapp. "It's a business regardless of who these people are and their rights to live there. It takes away from the family atmosphere, from the neighborhood."

"I would say to them, come visit us," urged Cuminsky. "See what we're doing here. Our folks are no different than a lot of people that need assistance."

Alderman Tony Thomas, who represents Windsor Forest, says the home is within its legal rights, and that the patients living there have not been disrupting the community.

Reported by: Hena Daniels, hdaniels@wtoc.com

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