Thousands of people with mental health disabilities live in large adult care homes and in smaller family care homes in North Carolina. Advocates argue that many of these facilities are too institutional to truly help their residents integrate into the community. Now the federal government is investigating the state. Justice Department attorneys contend the state’s reliance on such facilities to house people with mental illness could violate federal law and Supreme Court rulings.
In this installment, I explored some of the housing options available for people with mental health disabilities. I visited a family care home, talked to someone who had lived in an adult care home (he lives in a group home now), and talk with someone whose sister lived in adult care homes for 14 years before getting her own apartment.
One question that kept coming up as I interviewed people… what constitutes a place being an ‘institution’? It turns out that the language of the law isn’t completely clear – is an adult care home an institution or not?
For many advocates, the definition of ‘institution’ comes down to this question: Would I want to live there?
People with disabilities they say they want some choice. Some, like Joanne Howell, say she likes living in a family care home. Others, like Josh, say an adult care home wasn’t for him.
You can listen to the story here:
Story guest-edited by Cheryl Devall, news editor, Southern California Public Radio