Mentally disabled workers find home in Waterloo - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Mentally disabled workers find home in Waterloo


by John Wilmer

WATERLOO (KWWL) -- Exceptional Persons Incorporated in Waterloo is providing shelter and care for the 21 former workers at the West Liberty Foods plant. The state took legal control of the mentally disabled men after finding them living in a bunkhouse in deplorable conditions.

People have had similar complaints about the facility in the past. The Department of Inspections and Appeals inspected the home in 2001 and 2005, but could not confirm allegations that the home was being run as unlicensed care facility.

On Saturday a fire marshal declared the home a hazard and the men had to move.

For the 21 men who lived in the home, it was a challenge to make it through an average day.

"Every time it rains it leaks, leaks in the bedroom, leaks in the bathroom and it leaks up stairs," an identified man who lived in the home said.

The ages of the men range from late 30's to 70 years old. 

"Some of these gentlemen have been in Iowa or have resided in Atalissa for up to 30 years so that was their home regardless of the conditions. That's what they knew," Denis Gonzales of Department of Human Services said.

On Saturday they were taken away from this home by the Department of Human Services.

"Each one was assessed to determine if they were a dependent and a dependent adult," Roger Munn of the Department of Human Services said.

For the time being they will stay on the Exceptional Persons Incorporated campus, where they have a variety of living quarters.

"Another large residential setting that you would think of as a traditional group home setting a licensed traditional group home setting in the community that are home to 3, 4, or 5 people," Executive Director of EPI, Chris Sparks said.

Officials with DHS say the men are happy and a hard working group. The Executive Director of Exceptional Persons Inc says if they want to continue to work they will get that opportunity to find a new job.

Online Reporter: John Wilmer

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