Judge Orders New York to Move Mentally Ill Out of Adult Homes

From the New York Times:

New York State must begin moving thousands of people with mental illness into their own apartments or small homes and out of large, institutional adult homes that keep them segregated from society, a federal judge ordered on Monday. The decision, by Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis of Federal District Court in Brooklyn, followed his ruling in September that the conditions at more than two dozen privately run adult homes in New York City violated the Americans With Disabilities Act by leaving approximately 4,300 mentally ill residents isolated in warehouselike conditions.

The remedial plan offered by Judge Garaufis, drawn from a proposal presented by advocates for the mentally ill that was backed by the Justice Department, calls on New York to develop at least 1,500 units of so-called supported housing a year for the next three years in New York City. That would give nearly all residents the opportunity to move out of adult homes.

The Americans with Disabilities Act gives PWDs the right to live in the least restrictive housing possible – in this case, moving from adult homes into independent supportive living units. This is a great development for those previously forced to live in the abusive conditions of the group homes.

This lawsuit was filed after a series of articles in the NY Times about the horrific and abusive conditions present in group homes for adults with mental disabilities. It is unclear whether these changes would have taken place had the newspaper not devoted the time and resources to their year-long investigation of these conditions and problems.

4 thoughts on “Judge Orders New York to Move Mentally Ill Out of Adult Homes

  1. This is really wonderful news. I cringed before reading the post, because I thought it was going to be a story about the exact opposite situation!

  2. As much as I agree with this decision, it leaves out those “most severe” cases. If the cost for community living is said to be $40,000/year, that threshold is easily reached for people with more intensive needs. Are they somehow allowed to live in abusive conditions? I’m not saying you think so, but the judge clearly didn’t realize these implications.

  3. @Astrid – my impression (and I’m not all that familiar with this case) is that it concerned people who were inappropriately kept in more restrictive facilities than their condition warranted, only because no lower-level facilities were available. So people whose conditions require intensive treatment might not be included in this order, as they are appropriately placed in a higher level facility. But keeping people in an institution simply because there’s no lower-level facilities in existence is definitely a problem.

  4. @ abby jean: well it is true that simply not having lower level facilities around is a bad reason for institutionalization, but I don’t see how people whose conditions “require” “require” intensive care, can be warehoused like that. I am all for the least restrictive environment, but it is not like a more restrictive environment necessarily requires warehouse-like conditions. I am concerned with the need for civil rights to be “cost-effective” or “appropriate” for the person’s condition.

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