The needs of the individuals living at NORCE are of the utmost importance, and I like many others feel that some of these needs will not be met in community homes. There are additional concerns that have not been addressed as well.
First, there is quite a shortage of rental property in Enid. This is a well-known fact. It is difficult for any family to find a decent home with decent rent. All of these residents will be needing proper housing with the modifications that need to be made for their specific needs. Finding housing for a large number of people will be a monumental task.
Second, while these homes are home to the residents, essentially they are a business. There are staff changes at all hours of the day and night, and there are staff meetings which require all staff to attend. This causes major parking issues, and noise issues in neighborhoods that are not zoned for business. I have lived next door to such a home for 16 years. The residents themselves rarely cause any problem (occasionally you can hear them vocalizing very loudly), but we have had many problems with the staff. People pull up to pick up staff in the middle of the night with music blaring, honk for them to come out, have loud arguments in the yard, etc. Because these people do not live there, you can’t even properly report them to the police, because you have no way of knowing who they are. The point is, these homes can be very disruptive to a neighborhood.
Finally, there is the serious question of public safety. My sister has worked for NORCE and in private group homes, so I have direct information on the conditions of both types of care. There are clients at NORCE who have very violent behaviors and have to be watched very closely. There is adequately trained staff to take care of these people, and keep them from harming themselves or others at NORCE. In a private setting, the homes are often very under staffed and under trained. I do not feel that it is in the public’s best interest to have people with violent behaviors living right next door to others (especially children) under these conditions. It is a huge responsibility to protect these residents from harming themselves, and others, and the proper environment for that is not a group home.
Please contact the governor’s office, and your representatives and senators about this very important issue. Our community voice must be heard!