Neighbors, friends and legislators had a chance to visit handicapped group homes when 56 of the facilities opened their doors to the public Saturday.

The "Home Show" was sponsored by the Division of Services to the Handicapped to help people understand the need for group homes and feel comfortable living next to them.More than 650 handicapped and retarded individuals live in group homes in Utah. "The handicapped people residing in the community wish to get acquainted with their neighbors," said Sue Behle, planning specialist for the division. "They hope to participate in community activities and services."

Lawmakers received a special invitation to visit a group home in order to understand the needs and abilities of the handicapped. During the past three years, 406 handicapped residents have come out of institutions to live in the community, gaining the opportunity to become independent and self-sufficient while reducing the burden on the taxpayer. Without group homes, many of the handicapped individuals would have to live in federally mandated institutional programs, at a much higher cost.