Nonprofit Newswire | Warehouse Conditions for Mentally Ill Judged Inadequate in NYC

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March 2, 2010; New York Times | The history of institutionalization and de-institutionalization in this country is fascinating (try David Rothman’s classic Discovery of the Asylum for a good read on the topic) and this article exhibits some of the more recent battles about the right way to provide housing and services for people who are mentally ill in New York City. A judge, acting on a 2003 petition by a legal services group, Disability Advocates, has ordered that people currently in the adult homes be transitioned to supported housing as quickly as possible. There are major providers with a lot of vested economic interest operating in the space and the state has argued that the conditions in the homes—which were deemed to be “warehouselike”—have improved, but the Judge did not buy the state’s assessment. As with other judgments of this kind, this case is likely to be in and out of court for some time as implementation stalls or goes awry. Once institutions are built, it is very hard to eliminate them.—Ruth McCambridge