In 1986, the Washington County Redevelopment Authority acquired land around Western Center to develop Southpointe, a residential and business park with close proximity to Pittsburgh.
In 1989, the Disabilities Law Project (DLP) filed a federal class action lawsuit on behalf of all Western Center residents, Richard C. v. Feather Houstoun, Secretary, Department of Public Welfare, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, et. al. alleging that conditions were substandard at Western Center and that Western Center residents were capable of living in less restrictive community settings.
In 1992, DPW and DLP entered into a Settlement Agreement (CA 892038) to mandate individualized determinations for each class member as to whether community placement was appropriate. PP&A, DLP and county mental programs determined that all class members were appropriate for community placement.
In 1998, 38 family members filed guardianship petitions in Washington County to protect their intellectually disabled relatives from DPW's actions to forcibly discharge them from Western Center. DPL filed suit against the judge who granted guardianship to the Western Center members which was later dismissed on appeal.
In January 1998, DPW announced that the state was closing Western Center. 131 residents with severe disabilities, and extensive medical, habilitative and mental health needs were still there at the time.
In 1999, the Auditor General of Pennsylvania found that incidents of abuse were significantly higher in group homes than Western Center. These preliminary findings prompted the Auditor General Robert Casey (now Senator Casey) to proceed with a Performance Audit regarding the quality of care provided by taxpayer funded community group homes.
On January 31, 2000, DPW attempted to move two severely disabled residents from Western Center. Their family members and guardians staged a protest, wrapping their arms around the family members to stop the discharges. With the media looking on, DPW canceled the plans for their removal.