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.