Texas is blessed by strong leaders who guide an effective state government. Breckenridge Village of Tyler (BVT) witnessed this first-hand during the recently concluded 86th session of the Texas Legislature, where Tyler-area lawmakers Matt Schaefer and Bryan Hughes sponsored and passed an important bill helping BVT and the vulnerable population which the organization serves.
Breckenridge Village of Tyler is a residential community for adults with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities, such as Down syndrome or autism. The nonprofit’s programs and activities are designed to help residents develop the skills they need to achieve their God-given potential with a special brand of care unique to BVT.
To meet a growing need, BVT recently built three new homes that can house up to 18 residents. However, with that expansion came a roadblock: years ago, the Texas government stopped issuing new licenses to intermediate care facilities like BVT. Existing licenses had to be sold and transferred, while new licenses could not be created.
With a limited supply and an increasing need for individuals with disabilities, the cost of licenses for intermediate care facilities came to exceed $40,000 each. For a non-profit like BVT, paying nearly $1 million for additional state licenses would take away necessary funds meant to serve the Breckenridge Village community and the needs of its residents.
That’s where Rep. Schaefer and Sen. Hughes stepped in with House Bill 3117, which Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law on June 14. The bill allows the state’s Health and Human Services Commission to periodically review active facility licenses while reallocating suspended licenses to facilities where those residents can be given a home, such as BVT.
We are fortunate that in Tyler, leaders like Matt Schaefer, Bryan Hughes and Greg Abbott demonstrate that government can be effective and compassionate. We applaud their work to change state law to improve the status and care of those with intellectual and developmental disabilities and to inspire the best from our communities and neighbors. Thanks to House Bill 3117, more families are given hope and more individuals are offered a place to call home.