Listed below is an article from yesterday’s Assembly Housing hearing.
Everyone from the Mental Health Community spoke with a strong voice in
support of the Bring It Home campaign. For too many years, housing
providers and the residents of the homes (and their loved ones) have been
impacted by minimal housing increases. We have to raise our voices across
the State in support of Bring It Home.
Supportive housing advocates make case for more funding
By Nick Niedzwiadek
12/11/2017 04:21 PM EDT
ALBANY — There continues to be unmet need in New York State for supportive
housing for people with mental illness or developmental disabilities,
advocates testified Monday at an Assembly committee hearing.
Supportive housing services provide people the opportunity to live in the
community, rather than in an institutional setting, and receive medical or
other social services there. It allows them to be more integrated into
society than they otherwise would be, and in some cases it is a more
cost-effective form of housing than a state-run facility or jail.
*Toni Lasicki, executive director for the Association for Community Living,
spoke about the lack of access in urgent terms. *
*”Make no mistake about it, New York is facing a dilemma: We can either be
a national model for how states can protect a population that so
desperately needs support, or watch the system collapse and become an
example of what can go wrong,” she said. “The funding issues are so acute
that the existence of the programs [is] in jeopardy.”*
Increasing funding to build and operate more supportive housing units, and
units that can meet a wide spectrum of specialized needs, was the chief
concern. But a close second was whether the two state agencies principally
charged with overseeing these programs — the Office of Mental Health and
the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities — maintained
sufficiently accurate data to guide decisions.
“There continues to be considerable concern about accuracy of the data,
[and] this lack of confidence in the data undermines confidence in the
broader effort to resolve the residential issue,” said Mark van Voorst,
executive director of The Arc New York, an organization for people with
intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“I’m not sure that if OPWDD was given all the operating funding it could
conceivably need, these funds would actually solve the problem,” van Voorst
Kerry Delaney, OPWDD’s acting commissioner, said wait lists aren’t the best
way of tracking demand for supportive housing.
“It’s not necessarily a reflection of current need,” she said, noting the
rolls have shrunk in recent years nonetheless.
Several groups at the hearing have banded together and formed a coalition
called Bring It Home, which is pushing for increased state funding to help
staff and operate these community-based housing facilities.
*”We are part of this campaign because we know what is happening to the
existing stock of mental health housing in New York,” Glenn Liebman of the
Mental Health Association of New York State said at the hearing.
“Structures are falling apart, resources are strained and staff is
dramatically under-compensated for the work that they are doing.”*
A similar effort last year successfully lobbied
for increased state support to help pay direct care employees, who often
work in supportive housing programs.
But the state is facing a $4.4. billion shortfall
that must be closed in next year’s budget, and the sweeping tax bill
working through Congress could, if it passes, also impact next year’s
spending plan. Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther (D-Forestburgh), chair of the
Mental Health Committee, said she hoped that legislative leaders would be
able to find the money to help fund supportive housing.
“Housing is critical, and supporting these folks is important, and I think
that we neglected [them] for a long time and we have a lot of catch-up to
do,” she said at the hearing. “I’m praying that things will turn around.”