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