We thank Assembly Mental Hygiene Chair Aileen Gunther for holding a
hearing today on community housing in mental health and developmental
disabilities. Both Assemblymember Gunther and Assemblyman Angelo
Santabarbara spoke very positively of the needs of housing providers in
mental health and the importance of workforce enhancements for staff.
Several advocacy groups in mental health including MHANYS, NAMI, ACL, The
Coalition of Behavioral Health Agencies and Supportive Housing Network of
New York all provided concrete examples of the number of individuals,
families and providers who are struggling with the limited resources
available for community housing.

The impact is reflected in long waits for beds, limited resources and
staff that are highly underpaid for the level of intensity of the work that
they do to help individuals with mental health needs.

In MHANYS testimony, I also highlighted the continued disparity between
the funding for inpatient care and community support. According to the OMH
Statewide Comprehensive Plan, there is $6.6 billion dollars funding New
York’s 700,000 individuals in the public mental health system. Half of that
funding is for 3500 beds in psychiatric hospitals while the other half goes
to pay for the 700,000 people living in the community. Reinvestment tips
the scale in a positive way but that is still a very small percentage of
overall funding. Talk about a disproportionate ratio.

Most of us can agree that there has to be emergency hospital room beds
available for individuals in crisis, but are we getting our $3.3 billion
dollars’ worth for only 3500 bed?. I think we all know the answer to that.
Until that ratio dramatically scales to the community mental health sector,
we will continue to suffer in housing and other priority areas of need for
individuals in the mental health system.

Several of us also talked about the role of families in the housing
crisis. They are the silent majority in this crisis. Many elderly parents
are housing their adult child because there are few better alternatives.
We don’t know how many families are directly impacted by the housing
shortage but there should be a reporting mechanism in place to identify the
need.

Our testimony is attached.

Translate »