WSVN — Tonight, a battle between the government and a group home for the disabled has one side suing and the other threatening arrest. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case.

The people who call Lauderhill Family Care their home are like family to owner Susan Spaw.

Susan Spaw: “I take care of the invisible people that nobody else wants.”

People with mental and physical disabilities .who live in the area called Cannon Point in Lauderhill. The neighborhood was once packed with assisted living facilities, but their numbers have dwindled. And some believe the city is to blame.

Aram Bloom: “What we believe happened is that the city became interested in taking over all of the properties in Cannon Point, with the intention of building its own housing under the Housing Authority. Because of that, they underwent a concerted effort to take properties, one at a time.”

Those who remain in Spaw’s care are now fighting to stay put.

Resident: “She saved my life, too.”

Resident: “I like living here. She’s been good to me. I’ve been with her 21 years.”

But time is ticking. Spaw says the city is trying to shut down her facility, which she fears could leave her residents homeless.

Susan Spaw: That’s my biggest fear, there is no decent place to put them.”

Carmel Cafiero: “The facility is not going down without a fight. It is now waging a legal battle with the city and state agency that regulates assisted living facilities, saying they and other facilities in this neighborhood have been unfairly targeted.”

Susan Spaw: “The city of Lauderhill and the Agency for Health Care Administration, working together to rid Cannon Point of the mentally ill. It’s just plain and simple.”

Susan has filed suit against the state and Lauderhill, accusing the city of a “…comprehensive discriminatory, systematic and full court press to push these facilities and the handicapped and elderly residents who they care for, out of the city…”

The lawsuit contends the city could not afford to buy Susan Spaw’s property, so it conspired with the state to take away her business by using trumped up charges. Inspections of her facilities showed problems, including unsecured medications, unsanitary food areas and dirty rooms. But Susan says those violations have not caused other similar facilities to shut down.

Susan Spaw: “They can commit far worse, even death, and they’re hit with a fine, but they pay the fine. But they don’t close them.”

As a result of the violations, the state would not renew the license for Spaw’s facility, and says now she’s operating illegally. Susan was warned she could be arrested, but says she will not abandon her residents.

Susan Spaw: “Either my last breath or my last dime, I’m not going anywhere.”

But that may not be up to her. Carmel Cafiero, 7News.

Neither Lauderhill nor the State Agency for Health Care Administration would comment for our story, citing the pending litigation.

IF YOU HAVE A STORY FOR CARMEL TO INVESTIGATE:
Miami-Dade: 305-627-CLUE
Broward: 954-921-CLUE
E-mail: clue@wsvn.com
You can also send a tweet to @carmelonthecase.

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