Coalition Responds to Sweeping Changes in Mental Health System

Yesterday, New York State announced sweeping changes to the operation of state-run psychiatric hospitals, including the closure of 9 facilities and a transition to the use of more community-based facilities. Shelly Nortz, the Coalition for the Homeless’s Deputy Executive Director for Policy released the following statement:

“With thousands of vulnerable New Yorkers languishing on waiting lists for supportive housing, we’re grateful the Office of Mental Health is poised to replace a system of antiquated, underused institutions with state-of-the-art inpatient and community care. The process ahead requires we all work together to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past, when mass deinstitutionalization – without adequate community-based housing and support services – led to a sharp rise in homelessness.”

“We must make every effort to ensure that this reconfiguration does not leave behind needy New Yorkers. Housing stability is the cornerstone of success for recovery in the community, and it is imperative that New York continues to lead the nation with the investments and innovation needed to develop housing solutions to scale. Success will be realized when New Yorkers with psychiatric disabilities no longer face high rates of chronic homelessness and long waits for stable housing in our communities.”

“We look forward to working with the Office of Mental Health and the Department of Health to ensure that people served in the system are able to avoid, or quickly resolve any homelessness they may face in this period of unprecedented change.”