WHO 13 NEWS – A troubled state-home for Iowans with intellectual and developmental disabilities is slated to close. Gov. Reynolds made the announcement Thursday, saying the Glenwood Resource Center will permanently shut down in June of 2024.

The 152 people who currently live there will soon have to find a new place to live.

“They don’t know another type of living environment. To them that is their home,” Brooke Lovelace, executive director of Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council, said. “And this is going to become, you know, devastating to them.”

While it will be a shock, Lovelace said it will prompt positive change. The state plans to transition many of the residents to a similar state facility in Woodward, and others will be placed in the community.

“We do really support people with disabilities living in the community and thriving in the community and moving away from these types of institutional settings,” Lovelace said.

A lawsuit filed in 2020 accused staff at Glenwood of conducting human sexual experiements. It prompted federal officials to keep investigating. 

Last year, a report from the U.S. Department of Justice accused the Department of Human Services of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. The state is supposed to integrate Iowans with disabilities into their communities. Instead, many are still stuck in institutions.

“Those investigations are really important because it’s showing Iowa that we have a lot of work to do,” Cyndy Miller, the legal director of Disability Rights Iowa, said. “And the fact that the Department of Human Services is taking this step, I think, is moving us in the right direction to address those issues.”

The question remains will there be enough supports in place to do so? A lack of community service providers has advocates asking lawmakers for funds and help.

“They’ve made a significant commitment to community providers last year in the House and their budget this year to raise rates so we can pass along those wages to direct support professionals that support these vulnerable Iowans,” Shelly Chandler, CEO of Iowa Association of Community Providers, said.

While some view the two-year timeline as helpful to get things moving, advocates are hopeful the transition will be a smooth one.

The state plans to reduce the number of residents by 50% by June of next year, and eventually sell the property by July of 2024.

As for the more than 700 people who work at Glenwood, the state will offer incentives for them to keep working during this time, then offer assistance to help them find a new job.