House passes State Rep. LaPointe bill to protect wages of disabled residents in group homes

CHICAGO – People with disabilities who live in group homes will have the right to keep the wages they earn under a bill sponsored by State Rep. Lindsey LaPointe and passed unanimously this week by the Illinois House.

“Working people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who live in group homes should have the right to keep the money they earn,” LaPointe said. “Right now, they are required to surrender a large portion of their earnings to the home providers, to subsidize the state’s low reimbursement rates. HB 292 will end this unfair practice, which creates a disincentive for these residents to find jobs and earn wages.”

HB 292 addresses a long-standing inequity for people with disabilities living in Community Integrated Living Arrangement (CILAs), such as group homes, family homes, or agency-supervised apartments. Under current law, CILA providers recoup a substantial portion of any wages earned by residents, to offset the gap between the state Department of Human Services (DHS) reimbursement rate and the actual cost. The new law will allow workers to keep all the money they earn and will require DHS to make up the difference for any CILA income lost.

“Earning a paycheck and a strong sense of independence is what all Americans value. This bill will help to promote independence by ensuring people with disabilities are able to keep all of the wages they earn,” said Josh Evans, President and CEO of the Illinois Association of Rehabilitation Facilities. “IARF was proud to work with the Arc of Illinois on this issue, and we thank Rep. LaPointe for her leadership in seeing this bill through the House of Representatives.”

HB 292 also will make sure that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are better represented on the Illinois State Use Committee, which oversees a state program that facilitates the purchase of products and services from not-for-profit agencies that provide employment opportunities to people with disabilities. HB 292 will add two public members with disabilities and one public member from a disability-focused statewide advocacy group to the committee roster.

“HB 292 recognizes people with disabilities have the right to earn and keep their wages and to have a voice in the state’s decision-making about their work lives,” LaPointe said. “I am proud that the Illinois House came together to support this legislation, and I hope this bill will be passed quickly by the Senate and signed into law by Governor Pritzker.”

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For more information, please contact Elizabeth Austin