Community Now! was founded in 2007 by the Tate and Garrison-Tate family to respond to the horrific civil rights abuses reported by the Department of Justice (DOJ) about Lubbock State School, a state operated institution (also known as State Supported Living Centers) for people with Intellectual Disabilities. (see “Things You Should Know) The DOJ sued Texas for the unsafe conditions and lack of opportunities for people to leave the institution when they requested. CN! advocated that the DOJ investigate the other state institutions and they found similar if not worse violations in all 13 facilities.
At that time, Texas had more institutions than any other state with more people including children living in these facilities.
It was also discovered that state operated institutions cost more than three times the amount of home and community based services.
Joshua Tate wrote and directed “Forgotten Lives” a documentary that exposed the conditions in Texas Institutions. Community Now! was founded because of the outrage from a family who has a loved one at risk of Institutionalization and because of the critical need to create a clear voice for the voiceless living in Texas institutions. Forgotten Lives won 1st place at the Touching Disability Film Festival hosted by the Coalition for Texans with Disabilities as well as a Social Justice award from a mainstream film festival. The film prompted conversation and action in the policy, state agency and advocate community calling for change. The power of film was evident leading to the medium becoming foundation piece of CN!
Community Now! organized rallies, press conferences supported legislation that called to the Institutional bias in Texas and to create real options for people with disabilities to live in their communities.
Community Now! has emerged as the leader to call for an end to institutions and create community options for the 10s of thousands of people with disabilities who continue waiting for community services.
Since CN! was founded in 2007, the census of people in state operated institutions has decreased from 4500 to 3100. We believe that CN! has had impact to decrease the census. CN! will continue the work to support systems change to ensure people living in institutions have the choice to live in the community and to ensure quality/accountable community services and supports are readily available.