"A mother can take care of 10 children, but 10 children can't take care of one mother," said Brother Augustine Vigue following the introduction at the Prince George's County Council Tuesday of a bill to make it easier to set up small group homes for the elderly.
"Children say, Mom and dad are retired and I've got my life.' They tend to push the elderly aside. There are several hundred abandoned aged adults in Prince George's County and they need real help," said Brother Augustine standing outside the Council chambers.
Brother Augustine had attended the Council meeting to support a bill that would make it easier for groups like Brother Augustine's order, the Little Missionary Brothers of the Sacred Heart, to provide an alternative to nursing home for elderly and handicapped persons who do not need constant and skilled medical attention. The bill allows group homes, housing from two eight persons, to operate in residential and open space zones in the county without receiving special zoning legislation. Under the bill, the group homes must provide 24-hour supervision, shelter and meals, personal guidance, transportation to medical care and a therapeutic or active program for adults who have nowhere else to go.
Introduced by Councilman Francis B. Francois and sponsored by all members of the Council, the bill would affect the "growing number of individuals . . . abandoned adults who are healthy enough to care for themselves, but who cannot live alone . . . without a protective environment," said Francois.
Brother Ausgustine's order currently provides group homes in two areas of the county - Hyattsville and Adelphi - where "elderly care for the elderly. This is not skilled care but a place for the elderly who have been pushed aside," he said.
The homes, which are funded partially through the individual's ability to pay and through church and business contributions, take persons who have no relatives available to assist them, who are medically well, mentally alert and who are ambulatory.
"We provide every imaginable necessity - food, clothing, personal necessities, transportation, recreation and information on the many government programs available to them," said Brother Augustine, The Brothers plan to expand their facilites and build a permanent home to provide for more of the "10 to 15 who call each week."
Before receiving Council approval, the bill must be reviewed in committee and in public hearings.
In other action, the Council passed a municipal tax differential emergency act which would reimburse municipalities elsewhere in the county by county agencies.
The county will directly reimburse a municipality for police fire protection, street lighting and leaf and trash collection - if the county provides those same services in unincorporated areas of the county.
An alternative bill giving a direct rebate to the citizens instead of the government of the municipality was offered but defeated after long debate. Officials from New Carrollton, Hyattsville, Greenbelt and Mount Rainer presented strong support for direct municipal reimbursement with Greenblet Mayor Gil Widenfeld claiming that direct rebates to the citizens would be "an intrusion on local governments and their abilities to provide services to the country."
The Council also adopted an application for federal funds through the Neighborhood Improvement Plan. Thecounty is eligible for $5.8 million for improvements in low and moderate-income level areas of the county.
Major NIP grant provision include $2,527,000 for public works improvements, $765,000 in loans and grants to individual homeowners to bring their property up to code standards, and rent supplement and rehabilitation funds for many areas of the county. The grant also provides for a $579,000 contigency fund for unspecial local projects.The NIP application must now be reviewed and approved by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.