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.”