Mental health advocates push for more housing in NY

March 25, 2018

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Advocates for New Yorkers with mental illness have delivered nearly 25,000 letters to state leaders urging them to find more funding for community housing for those with significant mental health challenges.
Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed an additional $10 million to expand community housing programs for the mentally ill but advocates say much more money is needed.
Community housing programs often link up residents with workforce training, medical care, therapy and other resources that advocates say reduces other costs related to homelessness, incarceration and emergency room visits.
Antonia Lasicki, director of the state Association For Community Living, says housing programs face a financial breaking point after decades of underfunding.
The letters were delivered on Wednesday. Lawmakers hope to approve a new state budget by April 1.



Mental health advocates have long argued that community housing for those with serious mental illness is not only far more effective from a treatment standpoint, but also far more efficient for taxpayers.

Now, they’re warning the state about higher costs for institutionalization and even prisons if New York doesn’t substantially increase funding for community housing programs, which seek to provide a roof — and vital mental health services — for some of the state’s most vulnerable residents.

Decades of underfunding have left the community housing system desperately short changed, according to Toni Lasicki, executive director of the Association for Community Living. Funding for the system now ranges from about $7,000 per person to $25,000 per person per year, a fraction of what incarceration or hospitalization can cost.

Lasicki and other advocates are calling on lawmakers to increase funding in next year’s budget to avoid a shortage of community housing that would force more New Yorkers with mental illnesses into hospitals or jails.

“A stable home is the foundation of care and recovery for New Yorkers with psychiatric disabilities,” Lasicki said. “Without reliable, adequate and continuous funding, providers will cease operations, leading to shortages of critical community-based housing units and punishing those who need help the most.”

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WTEN (ABC News10): Assembly holds hearing on housing for the disabled

By Morgan McKay
Published: December 11, 2017, 4:41 pm  Updated: December 11, 2017, 4:57 pm

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – New York has come a long way in how it cares for its disabled and mentally ill residents and continues to set new national standards in how these people are cared for.

However, these programs are at risk of being cut if something is not done soon to increase funding.

“We can no longer wait. At some point they have to pay attention to us,” Toni Lasicki, Director for Association for Community Living, said.

Lasicki says direct care workers still barely make minimum wage, even as some employees at fast food restaurants are earning $15 per hour. The legislature has pledged to raise direct care worker’s wages over the next six years, but Lasicki told the Assembly committee six years is too long.

“These jobs require staff to understand mental illness, supervise medications, do crisis counseling; these are anything but minimum wage jobs.”

It’s not just direct care workers taking a hit. Housing programs for those with disabilities and mental illnesses are falling short of making ends meet across the state.

“We’re talking about serious underfunding for a lot of years.

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NY Daily News: Advocates: NY must invest more in housing for mentally ill

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Advocates for New Yorkers with mental illness say the state is falling behind on investments in community housing for this vulnerable group.

Legislators have scheduled a hearing Monday to examine existing housing programs for the mentally ill, with a focus on the best ways to improve the system.

Toni Lasicki, director of the Association for Community Living, says the housing system for the mentally ill is at a financial breaking point and that more must be done to help this vulnerable group of New Yorkers. Lasicki's organization represents programs and agencies that provide services and housing for 30,000 people with significant mental health challenges... Con't...

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Politico: 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 testified.

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.”

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Crain's Health Pulse: State chronically underinvesting in housing for mentally ill

Some housing nonprofits in New York City are avoiding contracting with the state Office of Mental Health to provide housing and services to mentally ill people because of the agency’s persistently low rates. They do not keep pace with inflation, rising rents or the city's cost of living, according to the Association for Community Living, which represents nonprofits...

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PoliticoPro: Supportive housing advocates get early start on budget requests


Supportive housing advocates have kicked off their budget season request for more financial support in order to meet mental health needs.

“A stable home is the foundation of care and recovery for New Yorkers with psychiatric disabilities,” said Toni Lasicki, executive director of the Association for Community Living, in a statement released today. “Without reliable, adequate and continuous funding, providers will cease operations, leading to shortages of critical community-based housing units and punishing those who need help the most.”

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WGY: Effort Being Made for More Funding for Mental Health Housing

Advocates are making a push for the state to increase funding for community-based mental health housing. 

Toni Lasiski, Executive Director of the Association for Community Living says this would help all New Yorkers.

“Not just a quality of life issue for them, it’s bad for their recovery long term, but it also costs the tax payer an awful lot of money to have people stay in settings that cost a lot more than it costs to pay us.”