Neighbors, police seek legislative answers for troublesome group home in Coon Rapids

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An unassuming suburban home in Coon Rapids has become the center of debate at the Minnesota Capitol.

The house on Ilex Street is a state-run group home with one lone occupant—a young man with intellectual and developmental disabilities and a history of violence. Neighbors say police get called to the home on average once or twice per week.

“We are concerned for the safety of the people in the neighborhood and concerned for the safety of the workers in the house,” said Lemoyne Corgard who lives next door.

FOX 9 ARCHIVE: 1 person, 1 home, millions of dollars

Coon Rapids Police Chief Brad Wise has testified in legislative committee hearings, saying he fears for the welfare of the community. He has asked lawmakers to pass a Health and Human Services bill that would include closing the home and relocating the individual.

“The resident has made frequent threats to kill DHS staff, to kill police. We’re going to have a tragedy and we could avoid it,” Rep. Zack Stephenson (DFL- Coon Rapids) told the House Thursday. “Less than a month ago, the resident attacked a DHS staffer inside the facility without warning or provocation. He grabbed her by the hair and shock her violently for several minutes.”

Closing the group home is included in the Senate version of the Health and Human Services omnibus bill, but when it came up as an amendment vote to the House version Thursday, it was ruled out of order because it goes against the budget resolution.

“[DHS] absolutely killed it by coming up with this bogus figure as to how much it would cost to close the facility,” said Sen. Jerry Newton (DFL – Coon Rapids).

The Department of Human Services added a financial note to the amendment of $700,000. That’s how much the department says it will cost to move the individual to a new location.

“It’s just dragging things out and not being responsive and not really looking out---in my opinion—for the interest of the young man,” said Newton.

In a statement, Human Services Commissioner Tony Lourey said the following:

We will continue to work with neighbors, community leaders and law enforcement to address their concerns about this home, while striving to provide the best care possible to the individual who lives there. Imposing arbitrary changes is not an option. This living arrangement was developed based on court requirements and is in keeping with state and federal law.

People with disabilities, like all Americans, have a right to live in their own homes in the community. We strongly oppose any legislative efforts to close this home and believe these actions are patently discriminatory. This would set a terrible precedent by signaling to communities that all they need to do to close a home in their neighborhood is to pressure local legislators.