DHS announces they will not have to cut programs for seniors and those with disabilities

(KOKH/Bill Schammert)

The Department of Human Services says they will not have to cut programs next month after funding was approved for the agency.

DHS had previously stated they would begin eliminating service programs for seniors and people with disabilities beginning Dec. 1 if they did not receive more funding. Lawmakers sent a budget package last week to Governor Mary Fallin, who vetoed a large portion but kept in take funding for several agencies. DHS Director Ed Lake says the agency will receive $26.9 million in short-term funding from the bill.

"This funding allows us to stop these devastating cuts and continue providing critical services beyond December 1; however, we are still $42 million short of a balanced budget," Lake said.

Notices will be sent this week to recipients and providers in the ADvantage Waiver program, Adult Day Services, Developmental Disabilities Services, Adult In-Home Supports Waiver and DDS Sheltered Workshop and Community Integrated Employment programs.

Staff at Village Oak Assisted Living Center said this a relief, but they it's temporary. So they're weighing out their options.

"I didn't ask to get old. And you know, you don't," said resident Bob Hooker.

That's how some expressed their frustrations once they heard DHS could possibly make cuts to senior programs and those with disabilities.

"I was really hurt and disappointed because they seemed to fool around so much on the budget and they left us to the last," Hook said.

"We was all scared. Of course, God's in control and he's going to take care of us," said Village Oak resident Alice Helton.

Village Oak gets most of its money from DHS. They would have closed if funding didn't come through. Village Oak administrator, John Wilson, said this is only a temporary solution.

"It's not stopping the problem. It's a pause, sort of speak, but really the problem is just compounding everyday that they didn't come up with a solution that has a long term residual effect," Wilson said.

While he said this has created some form of relief, that hasn't stopped at least 10 percent of their residents from leaving.

"A lot of them going out of state to be honest with you. Not staying in the state of Oklahoma," said Wilson. "Going to New Mexico, Texas and various other locations where they feel like they maybe honored as seniors."

DHS said they're also weighing their options with this extended time.

"We're still crunching the numbers to determine how long exactly we can sustain these programs with the short term funding," said DHS spokesperson, Sheree Powell.

Residents are just hopeful things will work out for the best.

"As the lord would provide for us, I would hope he keep us all together," said Hooker.

Residents, such as Helton, said they have a backup plan, like staying with family. But other residents, such as Hooker, said he doesn't. He told FOX 25 his family is out of state. So he's praying for the best outcome.

DHS is still working to determine how long they can sustain the programs with the current funding.

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