AP: NY lawmakers urged to add more mental health housing

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Advocates for New Yorkers with mental illness are urging state lawmakers to increase funding for housing for that vulnerable group.

The so-called Bring It Home Coalition was created to push for greater housing resources for people whose mental illness puts them at risk of being homeless. The group has scheduled a rally Tuesday at the state Capitol to highlight their request, which comes as lawmakers are putting together the next state budget.

The coalition says the state has 40,000 housing units currently at risk of closing because of decades of lackluster funding.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has included $10 million for community-based mental health housing in his budget proposal. Advocates say much more is needed to address the problem.

Read the story on the Associated Press’ website.

Syracuse Mental Health Advocates March (Again) for Adequate Funding for Housing Programs - WAER Syracuse

About a dozen people marched around the state office building today calling on the governor and lawmakers to properly fund housing programs for those with mental illness.  They’ve been holding these weekly marches for the past month as part of a statewide “bring it home” campaign.  Director of residential programs at CNY Services Tracy Lord-Mortas says the governor’s proposed a $10 million  increase in funding for mental health issues falls far short.

“There are 40,000 units of mental health houses across New York state, so you can imagine that $10 million...also given how far behind inflation we are. We haven’t got any significant increase in over ten years, at least not significant enough increase to get us where we need to be.”

Lord-Mortas says without proper housing, those with mental illness can’t get the support they need, and end up in and out of hospitals and even jail.  Long-time activist Agnes McCray says it can become a vicious cycle. 

“The justice system cannot be the answer. It not the cure all and all. And it’s sad to see how many are there, had nowhere to go, and are back on the street.”

The advocates are hoping lawmakers allocate more funding for mental health housing during the final week of budget negotiations.  The state budget deadline is April first.

Check out the article on WAER’s website.

Rochester First: WROC - 2/28/19 - 'Bring It Home' Coalition rallies for more funding for mental health housing

ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) - The "Bring It Home" Coalition held its weekly rally to encourage the governor to add more funding for mental health housing to the budget.

Currently, Governor Cuomo marked $10 million to help community-based housing programs, but inflation has taken a huge chunk and advocates say that is putting people at risk.

"As those property costs go up, what happens is some of the money or a lot of the money has to be taken from services to pay for those increases," explains Doug Cooper, associate executive director. "These are programs that really help people recover from serious mental illness. However, if we do not fund them adequately, they're at risk of going under and people's recovery is at risk."

The group will be protesting every Thursday until the budget is passed.

Watch the video on WROC here.

WXXI News - 2/28/19 - Rally held in Rochester to increase funding for mental health housing

A rally was held outside the Regional Office of the Governor in Rochester in an effort to increase funding for mental health housing programs.

Doug Cooper is the Executive Director of the Association for Community Living, a statewide group that represents programs funded by office of mental health.

Cooper and about a dozen other people were outside on the corner of Liberty Pole Way and Andrews Street advocating to get more funding for mental health housing programs.

Listen to the story on WXXI News here.

A rally was held outside the regional office of the governor in Rochester in an effort to increase funding for mental health housing programs. WXXI’s Caitlin Whyte has more from Andrew Street.

"Its individuals who have in some instances they were hospitalized. They’re now out in the community, they’re working on their recovery and having safe, affordable housing is paramount to being a successful member of the community."

Cooper says they are thankful for the $10 million that is the Governors Justice Agenda includes for this housing now, but that it’s not enough due to inflation.

"As they develop housing, unfortunately they haven’t been given any increases over the years to keep up with inflation. So we have programs that are anywhere from 40 to 75% inflation if you compare to the last 25 years."

Cooper says they will be holding rallies every Thursday morning outside the regional office though at least when the New York state budget is passed

The Rochester event is part of a statewide effort with rallies also happening in Syracuse, Buffalo, Long Island and New York City.

Locals rally in Buffalo to support mental health housing programs - Dunkirk Observer

Locals rally in Buffalo to support mental health housing programs

BUFFALO — Local community members representing Southern Tier Environments for Living, Inc. (STEL) participated in the Bring It Home Coalition Rally in Buffalo on Thursday. The statewide rallies urged Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York state lawmakers to adequately fund community-based mental health housing programs. Rallies were also held in Long Island, New York City, Albany, and Rochester.

Over the past decade, mental health housing programs, which provide housing and built-in supports to tens of thousands of adults with serious and persistent psychiatric disabilities throughout New York state, have been critically underfunded, endangering the lives of vulnerable residents and straining housing provider staff and caregivers.

“Members of the Bring It Home coalition, STEL and our supporters are rallying to inform community members and government leaders about the challenges and needs which people with mental illness encounter when accessing housing and support services,” said Thomas J. Whitney, executive director for STEL. “Now is the time to take action as unfunded minimum wage increases are impacting our ability to attract and retain staff. New York State should do right by their most vulnerable, and provide the funding necessary to support residents living with mental health conditions who are at risk of hospitalization, incarceration, or homelessness.”

Rally participant and Gowanda resident David Bailey stated, “We need the funding. We have very little now and the cost of everything just keeps going up, but the only thing not going up is mental health funding. Today was a good day. I felt proud to be there and proud of who I am and what we’re standing for.”

The rallies are the latest push from the Bring It Home coalition to ensure that mental health housing programs are fully funded, building on an on-going campaign in which more than 20,000 letters from New Yorkers have been sent to call on Governor Cuomo and state legislators to make a significant investment in this year’s budget.

For more information about the Bring It Home rallies, please visit www.bringithomenys.org.

View the article on The Observer’s Website.

Mental health housing group calls for funding - Crain's New York Health Pulse

A coalition of organizations pushing for increased state funding to maintain mental health housing units gathered Thursday outside Gov. Andrew Cuomo's offices in Manhattan as well as other sites in Albany, Buffalo, Long Island and Rochester.

State support for the 40,000 units and on-site services for people with serious mental illnesses has not kept pace with rising costs of rent and labor, said Toni Lasicki, executive director of the Association for Community Living, who is part of the Bring It Home coalition of housing providers. 

The governor committed $10 million to the cause in his fiscal 2020 budget proposal, and the state has contributed more than $50 million since fiscal 2014.

She said the nonprofits that provide the housing and services need an additional $162 million, possibly over five years, to make necessary investments in staffing and services. Right now, she said, some providers can barely make rent payments.

That type of boost seems unlikely given the governor's recent downward revisions to health spending compared with his preliminary budget proposal because of projected declines in tax collections.

But that is what's needed for different types of housing models, such as licensed community residences, which serve more seriously ill individuals, said Lasicki. Most money currently goes to scattered-site apartments.

"He's putting out fires and ignoring the coming inferno," Lasicki said of the governor's plan. —Jonathan LaMantia

View the article on Crain’s Health Pulse