Yesterday was a terrific day for mental health advocacy at the State
Capitol. Our colleagues at NYAPRS and NAMI-NYS both had their Legislative
Days. Everywhere you went, you saw people with placards, hats and tee
shirts urging support for housing and community resources for mental
health. Congratulations to Harvey Rosenthal and Thomas Templeton at NYAPRS
and Wendy Burch and Matthew Shapiro at NAMI-NYS and the hundreds of
attendees who were there to support a community investment in mental
health, housing and a myriad of other issues.

The call for $90 million dollars as a community investment for mental
health continues to grow. Last week, MHANYS and NYAPRS had several media
events highlighting the need for a one time community investment in mental
health. Yesterday, we participated in a press conference with NYAPRS, NAMI
and ACL urging support for $92.9 million annualized to help support
existing housing programs as well as the one time call for the $90 million
investment in mental health.

Listed below are several articles about yesterday’s events and the call
for more funding for housing and community support. 

If you agency wants to join on in support of our call for $90 million
investment in mental health, please contact me at gliebman@mhanys.org
or Harvey Rosenthal at harveyr@nyaprs.org

Also, MHANYS’ upcoming Legislative Day on March 9th will continue to build on
this momentum. Please attend and raise your voice in support of our
community. Go to www.mhanys.org to register.

Mental health advocates ask Cuomo, Legislature for $182 million

By Kassie Parisi

4:29 p.m. | Feb. 23, 2016

ALBANY — Mental health advocates ventured to the Capitol on Tuesday to ask
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature to include about $182 million in the
state budget for improvements in community housing and mental health
services.

“Our community and mental health services have been slowly withering away
because of a lack of funding that we need and deserve,” Harvey Rosenthal,
executive director of New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation
Services, said at a press conference.

The groups are asking for a one-time payment of $90 million that would go
toward infrastructure improvements to community residences and other
housing options available to the mentally ill. The rest of the request,
about $92.9 million, would be included in the budget annually for rate
increases for people who work in residences and provide support services.

Glenn Liebman, executive director of the Mental Health Association in New
York State, said the $90 million is necessary to start infrastructure
improvements as soon as possible.

“The reality is that we’re so desperate now, we really have to inject the
system with funding right now, as quickly as possible, to help avoid future
crises,” Liebman said at the press conference.

Since 1991, state mental health services have lost approximately 40 percent
of their funding to inflation, said Toni Lasicki, executive director of the
Association for Community Living.

Though new housing options are being added, Lasicki said, the 40,000 units
currently under the Office of Mental Health are in need of improvements.
She also said increases in the rates for providers who work in the existing
housing have been rare. Mental hygiene advocates have previously demanded
wage hikes for employees who deal with the developmentally disabled.

“Our staff need to be able to do a lot of very complicated services. They
have to do medication supervision, they have to understand complicated
medication regiments, they have to teach the clients about their
medications, they have to make sure people learn how to live in the
community, so their jobs are very complex,” Lasicki said.

Liebman said the funding increases are crucial because there are 800,000
people in the state who are served by the community mental health system.
According to Liebman, there has not been a state-driven cost of living
adjustment for seven years in the field, other than a smaller adjustment in
2014 for direct care workers — employees who work directly in the home of a
disabled or ill person.

“Really bump up the system. Invest in the system. We’re seeing so many
investments in so many other areas in the state, how can we not be
investing in behavioral health and mental health,” Liebman said. “It’s so
significant that we do invest in this piece that’s so essential to all our
folks and to individual recovery.”


Advocates Seek $92 Million One-Shot for Mental Health Services

Written by Karl Evers-Hillstrom, Legislative Gazette staff writer
on February
24, 2016

Hundreds marched in Albany Tuesday to advocate for New Yorkers with
psychiatric disabilities, pressing Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state legislators
to increase funding for community housing and mental health services.

Advocates are pushing for Cuomo to include funding increases for mental
health services in this year’s budget, including a one-time allocation of
$92.9 million to the New York State Office of Mental Health.

Toni Lasicki, executive director of the Association for Communal Living,
said the agency’s housing programs have experienced up to 40 percent in
cuts since 1990 because the budget has not increased to match inflation.
Lasicki said that without proper housing, people with mental health issues
could not recover.

Glenn Liebman, executive director of the Mental Health Association of New
York, agrees that funding for mental health services has remained stagnant
while demands have risen, putting providers in a tough situation.

“Without funding increases, it becomes increasingly difficult to offer even
current levels of service, to retain and recruit quality staff,” he said.

Liebman asked that legislators increase the rate of funding to adjust for
the rising cost of living.

Harvey Rosenthal, executive director of the New York Association of
Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services, said there has never been a better
time for funding increases for mental health services. He cites the state’s
recent $3.2 billion settlement with Morgan Stanley that could be used to
help increase funds for mental health services, which he said were in a
“state of crisis.”

Wendy Burch, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness
of New York State, said increased funding for communal housing and mental
health services would mean less people in state hospitals, jails and
prisons.

Hundreds marching outside the Capitol Tuesday afternoon shared her
sentiment, chanting “Help us, don’t arrest us.”

legislativegazette.com/archives/2774

Mental Health Groups Want More From State Budget

By Karen Dewitt New York Public Radio February 24, 2016

Mental health groups say they are being left out of a massive reshuffling
of the state’s Medicaid program, and that people with mental illness
transitioning back to their communities will suffer.

The mental health advocates and provider groups say the state needs to
spend more money on community housing and other services for the mentally
ill. Harvey Rosenthal, with the Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation
Services, says the funding has been in decline in recent state budgets, and
with the record windfall settlements with major banks, $3.2 billion,
there’s enough money to replenish the funds. Rosenthal says without the
money, some of the state’s most vulnerable people are at risk.

“We’re talking here about people with the most serious mental health
conditions,” Rosenthal said. “Who, if not for these services, could be
homeless or incarcerated.”

Rosenthal and others also questioned some of Governor Cuomo’s budget
priorities, including a plan to use some of the bank settlement monies to
offer discounts on Thruway tolls.

“Providing assistance to New Yorkers with the most serious needs must take
precedence over giving a tax credit for frequent Thruway users,” he said.

For several years, the state, with the strong support of the community
mental health care advocates, has been closing hospital beds in psych
centers and investing instead in community based services. But the groups
say they are being shortchanged this year, with $5.5 million diverted to
beds at nursing homes and long term care facilities instead.

They say $44 million is being taken from housing services, which include
group homes, and subsidized apartments.

They are seeking a one time supplement of $90 million, and they’d like an
additional $92 million more for annual cost of living increases that they
say have stagnated for the past 7 years.

Toni Lasicki, with the Association for Community Living says part of the
money would also help finance all of the upgrades that are needed as they
cope with the shift in the state’s Medicaid program to more managed care,
which requires a new level of sophistication, including electronic records
and many more requirements to fulfill.

“There’s so much that you have to do to prepare for the new world,” Lasicki
said. “And there’s no infusion of cash for us.”

The groups say it’s much more expensive to pay for hospital care for people
who can’t get a subsided apartment, or access to outpatient services. It
cost around $400,000 a year for someone to stay in a state hospital, and
around $100,000 a year to keep someone in prison. Subsidized housing can
cost as little as $7500 a year, and up to $30,000 a year in some cases,
where a mentally ill person needs multiple services.

The groups also believe they need will need more financial help from the
state to pay staff if the Governor’s $15 an hour minimum wage proposal
becomes law.

The Cuomo administration did not have an immediate response.

wamc.org/post/mental-health-groups-want-more-state-budget#stream/0

—————-

Rally Cry: More Funds for Housing for Mentally Disabled

The Associated Press February 24, 2016

About 100 demonstrators rallying at the state Capitol are urging the Cuomo
administration and lawmakers to increase funding for community housing for
New Yorkers with psychiatric disabilities.

They’re calling for nearly $93 million in upward rate adjustments this year
for supported and other housing statewide, most provided by nonprofits that
say they’ve fallen far behind inflation over the past 25 years.

The demonstrators are also asking for a one-time infusion of $90 million
from recent state settlement funds to improve infrastructure.

The state Office of Mental Health helps fund about 40,000 housing units

About 800,000 New Yorkers get services in the community mental health
system. Advocates say about 100,000 have serious disabilities, and that
stable housing is required for recovery.

—————-

Mental Health Advocates: New York Must Invest

Now in Hardpressed Housing, Community Services!

Contact:
Harvey Rosenthal, NYAPRS: 518-527-0564
Matthew Shapiro, NAMI: 518-542-3437
Toni Lasicki, ACL: 518-441-5651
Glenn Liebman, MHANYS: 518-360-7916

Over 700 advocates representing New Yorkers with psychiatric disabilities,
their families and community providers came to Albany today to press
Governor Cuomo and state legislators to make critically needed investments
in community housing and mental health services that they say are essential
to address steadily rising demands amid years of flat budgets.

“There has never been a better time for the state to keep its promise to
people with serious mental health conditions and their families,” said
Harvey Rosenthal, executive director of the New York Association of
Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services. He pointed to the state’s recent $3.2
billion settlement with Morgan Stanley, $215 million in ‘reserve funds’
that have been identified in the current budget and $340 million to fund
toll tax credit for Thruway motorists.

“Providing assistance to New Yorkers with the most serious needs must take
precedence over giving a tax credit for frequent Thruway users,” said
Rosenthal.

The groups called on state officials to address the distressed condition of
the state’s community mental health housing system.

“One of the primary concerns for NAMI members living throughout New York is
the need for housing with the adequate supports for their loved ones, “said
Wendy Burch, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness
of NYS. “No one can even begin the process to live a productive life
without a safe place in which to live.”

“With the proposed closure of hospital beds, NAMI-NYS is concerned that
many of the supported housing providers who will be responsible for taking
in this population simply will not have the resources to provide the proper
supports to meet their multitude of needs,” said Burch.

They also called for the state to shore up an array of community based
services and supports, including treatment, rehabilitation, crisis and
family and peer support services.

“With only one small increase in funding over the last seven years,
community mental health providers struggle to provide quality services and
supports that keep people in communities and out of hospitals, jails,
prisons and homelessness,” said Glenn Liebman, executive director of the
Mental Health Association of NYS.

“Without funding increases, it becomes increasingly more difficult to offer
even current levels of service, to retain and recruit quality staff and to
prepare for the daunting transition to Medicaid managed care,” he said.

Liebman called on the administration and the legislature to invest $90 to
shore up the community safety net and ensure access to quality and cost
effective services that keep people thriving in the community and out of
more costly settings.

While housing providers were encouraged by recent proposals to add new
beds, they insisted that the state address the ever worsening crisis that
existing housing programs are facing.

“While we thank Governor Cuomo for his promise to create 20,000 new
supportive housing units, existing OMH Housing programs have experienced up
to 40% in cuts of approximately $92.9 million due to inflation since 1990,”
said Toni Lasicki, executive director of the Association for Community
Living.

“Existing programs must be made whole if we want to ensure that safe and
appropriate housing opportunities continue to be available for people who
need the supports that these programs currently provide,” said Lasicki.

The groups are gathering in the Hart Auditorium in the Egg this morning and
will be marching outside the Capital and holding meetings with legislators
or their staff.

Glenn Liebman, CEO
Mental Health Association in New York State, Inc.
194 Washington Avenue Suite 415
Albany, NY 12210
gliebman@mhanys.org

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