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How One Family is Preparing for the Closure of Austin's State Supported Living Center

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT News
Judi Stonedale visits her daughter Julie last year.

Almost 100 years after the day it opened, the Austin State Supported Living Center (SSLC), a home for adults with severe developmental disabilities, is scheduled to close in 2017.

The Legislature's Sunset Commission ordered its closure during the last legislative session. But the order still needed legislative approval.

That approval came from the Senate this week, in the form of Senate Bill 204. And the House is expected to follow suit.

Like most mothers, Judi Stonedale will tell you she loves all three of her children the same.

But it's 43-year-old Julie who takes up most of her time.

Stonedale loves to watch Julie during playtime: "If she has a toy she'll hand it and take it back."

Julie smiles easily, and she's severely disabled. But she is mobile: She crawls, she gets around. She feeds herself.

"Most of [the food] goes on her," says Stonedale. "But, she might get 50 percent in her mouth."

Despite all the things Julie can do, she still cannot live on her own — which is why, for the Stonedales, the Austin Assisted Living Center was a godsend.

But now, Stonedale and her family are completely overwhelmed. The entire family is moving because of the SSLC's closure. Stonedale, a psychiatrist, was able to place Julie at a San Antonio facility and to get a job nearby.

Even though moving will involve selling the family home and finding a new place to live near San Antonio, Stonedale says her family is lucky. Other families are not as fortunate as hers.

"Every time I think about the people that live [at SSLC], I want to cry," she says. "[The closure] is going to horribly disrupt their lives."

Texas Standard reporter Joy Diaz has amassed a lengthy and highly recognized body of work in public media reporting. Prior to joining Texas Standard, Joy was a reporter with Austin NPR station KUT on and off since 2005. There, she covered city news and politics, education, healthcare and immigration.