Category Archives: Housing

Housing suit resolved in NY State

In a victory for adults with mental health disabilities, hundreds of such people will be relocated from nursing homes in New York state to supported housing in the community.

The case began in 2006 when a two residents in a NY nursing home – Joseph S. and Stephen W. –  sued, claiming the state was violating the ADA and the Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision by restricting their ability to move out of the institutions.

It’s a pretty simple, yet profound, request.  One of the best representations of that desire is displayed in this short documentary, Coco’s Story. The video was produced by a New York based group, with the tongue-in-cheek name: Coalition of the Institutionalized, Aged and Disabled. I usually don’t recommend videos online, but this is worth the nine minutes it takes to watch.

Plaintiffs were represented by New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, the protection and advocacy organization for New York City. NYLPI’s Disability Law Center serves the same role in NYC as Disability Rights North Carolina does in NC.

As reported in the NY Times:

…the settlement sets a three-year deadline for the state to move everyone who qualifies out of nursing homes and into the community. To that end, the state has promised to develop 200 new units of supported housing: units, typically apartments, where residents live alone or in small groups and receive regular visits from social workers.

This is pretty much what advocates for people with disabilities in North Carolina have been asking the state to do for people in adult care homes.  A federal judge ruled in 2009 that NY state needed to do the same thing for adult care home residents there.

The US Department of Justice will probably be seeking something similar in North Carolina.

DoJ finds NC in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act

I think we can safely say now that North Carolina does, indeed, warehouse folks with mental health problems in adult care homes – something advocates have long alleged.

The Department of Justice released their findings letter yesterday on the results of an 8 month long investigation of NC’s use of adult care homes to house people with mental health disabilities. The statement of findings bluntly states as much in the first paragraph.

“We conclude that the State fails to provide services to individuals with mental illness in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs in violation of the ADA. The State plans, structures and administers its mental health service system to deliver services to thousands of persons with mental illness in large, segregated adult care homes, and to allocate funding to serve individuals in adult care homes rather than in integrated settings…”

You can read the entire document here: DoJFindingLetter

The document makes some somber reading.  Page 8 details living conditions in adult care homes.

“Residents consistently described the regimentation and control exerted over them by facility staff and policies. Some residents reported they can only leave the facility to attend medical appointments and, as a result, their days are ‘depressing’ and ‘boring.’  One resident explained that the adult care home ‘controls when you get up, when you eat, and when you go to bed.’  A resident of another facility described her life as ‘living on a closed ward’ because she is locked in at all times and does not have the freedom to walk into town.  Another resident secured a job outside the facility, but was let go with the first few days because he was unable to get there from the facility. Likewise, a resident explained that she missed the ‘freedom’ of doing things with people in her community and that is is upsetting to her when staff talk to her ‘like [she] will be there until [she] die[s].’

Phone calls out for reactions…

Secrets of Tennessee’s success

Housing facilitator Rozann Downing

Housing facilitator Rozann Downing develops housing for 20 counties in Central Tennessee

WUNC‘s daily public affairs show, The State of Things, took a look at the adult care home issue today in the B segment of the show.  I appeared on the show along with Bob Currie, the Director of Housing and Homeless Services for the Tennessee Dept of Mental Health.

We had the opportunity to expand a little more on just how Tennessee has managed to turn a little bit of money into 9800 housing options for people with mental health problems – the key is local control.  The state provides grants to mental health agencies around the state to hire housing ‘facilitators’ who help local service providers create housing they need to better serve their area.   Those housing facilitators assemble the financing needed to create housing units – the money comes from local foundations, local banks, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Cincinnati grants, the Tennessee Housing Development Agency, etc, etc.  They’ve always got their ears to the ground to find money and prospective properties that can be turned into housing for people with disabilities.

Take a listen here (17 mins):

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Wake County inaugurates some new supportive housing

Photo courtesy DHIC

Low-income people in Wake County got access some more housing options this week when officials dedicated a supportive housing development. Brookridge is a neighborhood of 40 studio apartments in south Raleigh. Residents make 50 percent or less of the area’s median income. Program manager Annemarie Maiorano says the development supports a population that is susceptible to becoming homeless or falling back into homelessness.

Annamarie Maiorano:
It’s really a way out of the shelter. Everybody has to pay rent. The rent ranges from $376 a month to $425 a month, and so it’s for working people, but it’s a first chance out of homelessness for a lot of people.
[on tape]

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Maiorano says that’s about half of the average rental rates in Wake County. She says Brookridge has an on-site social worker and a resident manager to help residents with services like budget management and job searches.

Our morning producer Will Michaels did the reporting on this story.