Letter to the Michigan Chronicle:
by Jerome Jackson
I am a 53 year old paraplegic, named Jerome Jackson. Although I have been paralyzed and wheelchair bound since 1989, I have miraculously been blessed to be able to maintain my independence. As a long-term suffering victim from a spinal cord gun shot wound at age 14, I incredibly recognized that God had not taken my life or possible opportunities away from me, thus I am empowered enough to sustain a competitive attitude.
Normally you hear about the homeless struggles as a result of some downsizing from a company, or an addiction or financial mismanagement which brought upon those persons destitution, and subsequent life struggle, however, in dire contrast, mindful I have been paralyzed since I was 14 years old; my father died when I was 3; and my beloved mother, who taught me to take care of myself; passed away from cancer the day after I graduated from high school. Needless to mention my devastation, considering I had to immediately balance my emotions and live forth as she prepared to do.
My struggles thereinafter are too lengthy and subtracting from my issue herein, thus ill fast-forwarded to 1999, wherein I was eventually placed on a Medicaid Waiver list for disabled persons, which is supposed to permanently enhance disabled persons lives, so they too can maintain an independence through services provided by the agency, Community Living Services Inc., which is funded by the State of Michigan. I was subsequently advised by CLS, and placed in a Housing program, with a group of other disabled consumers herein, that afforded us the opportunity to become homeowners through Liberty Hill Housing Organization, an arm of CLS, Inc.
In 2004, a home was purchased for me by CLS, Inc., through Liberty Hill Housing Organization, with a $1200 a month mortgage, that was paid for by CLS, Inc., through the state budget allotment. In addition to the mortgage being paid from said budget, CLS, Inc., managed funds in this budget for my transportation services, vocation and home furnishings. CLS, Inc. deliberately set up myself and other disabled persons for failure, for said agency’s employees financial gain through embezzlement of the allotted state budget, under the guise of supposedly enhancing our lives through this non-profit state-funded agency, CLS, Inc.
Upon continuously receiving notices from CLS staff members’ montly during the summer of 2005, that the state-funded budget was supposedly being cut, thus all of my budgeted services were being limited in spending; I went to CLS offices and asked to view the budget cut records, because the cuts suggested some form of mismanagement or misappropriation. The CEO, Jim Dehem was immediately aggravated and defensive about my inquiries into the budget, and told me that I was “autistic” (an apparent untruth) and that I would be notified about cuts to my services, and I should leave the office. Hence, my funding continued to reduce, unexplained by CLS after the receipt of the full budget from the state.
When I was denied funding from the budget to finance the self-sufficiency tailoring course I enrolled in, I again was escorted to CLS, Inc., offices by my sister, Jettowynne Jones, to inquire as to “WHY” funds were being unaccounted for from my budget, and not able to be used to support my independence efforts. CLS Customer Service Representative, Helen Long-Eady stated to me directly in front of my sister that, “JEROME, IF YOU KEEP TRYING TO INVESTIGATE TOE FUNDING IN YOUR BUDGET, YOURE GOING TO LOSE YOUR SERVICES.”
In the interim of every one of my supposedly funded services (transportation, vocation, and home furnishings) being limited every other month, as promised by Helen Long-Eady, I begin retrieving records and office documented files exposing CLS agents embezzling and defrauding of the state allotted budget, to illuminate this scandal that is, as foreseen amidst our budget cuts, propelling myself and others near homelessness, as he already happened to mentally-challenged, handicap-disabled, Myesha Rucker.
CLS has deliberately set us up for added struggle in life, by purchasing us these homes through their Liberty Hill Housing Organization program, only for the temporal benefit of their documented defrauding practices. CLS refuse to pay the mortgages now from the budgets despite the fact that I have absolutely no means of income whatsoever to exist devoid this April 2008 with a bowelnarve problem that has me in and out of the emergency and doctor office treatments monthly.
(c) 2012 Michigan Chronicle