NYAPRS Member News: Community Access Housing, Fountain House Screening, MHA of Westchester Honors Lisa Dixon

Community Access Celebrates Opening of $14 Million Supportive Housing Complex in the Bronx


October 2, 2013 (Bronx, NY) – Community Access was joined by local residents, community partners, and representatives of the NYS Office of Mental Health to celebrate the opening of Vyse Avenue Apartments: 64 units of affordable housing for individuals with psychiatric disabilities and histories of homelessness, all now fully occupied.


In the Crotona Park neighborhood of the Bronx, Vyse Avenue Apartments was funded by the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH), which provided $10.3 million in capital, and through $3.6 million of low-income housing tax credits syndicated by the National Equity Fund and TD Bank, N.A. The building was designed by SLCE Architects and, starting September 2010, constructed by Mega Contracting Group LLC.


Says OMH Acting Commissioner John V. Tauriello: "The New York State Office of Mental Health is proud to be associated with Community Access' Vyse Avenue project. In developing its unique housing and service programs, Community Access has been a leader in finding opportunities to collaborate with colleague organizations, local community groups, private developers and State agencies. These apartments will not only provide safe and affordable housing but also services to support individuals in their recovery as they move towards greater stability and community re-entry. I thank Community Access for their continued contributions to the system of care in New York State as we work together to create a reality of recovery for all."


The Ribbon Cutting ceremony included speeches by Steve Coe, Community Access CEO, Ramesh Shah, Community Access board member, Moira Tashjian, Director of Housing Development and Support at the New York State Office of Mental Health, and Tony Lyons, Vice President, Acquisitions East Region, at National Equity Fund: a line up emblematic of how government agencies, non-profit organizations, and the private sector partnered together to make Vyse Avenue Apartments possible.


Moira Tashjian, who travelled down from Albany, said “The Office of Mental Health has had a long and successful partnership with Community Access, and we look forward to working on more projects together in the future.”


Another highlight of the ceremony was the screening of a new short video by the National Equity Fund, which shared how Vyse Avenue Apartments went from being a set of blueprints to a beautiful home for so many New Yorkers in need. Speaking in the video, Joe Hagan, National Equity Fund President & CEO, said “We believe extraordinary things happen when you have great partners.”

Vyse Avenue tenant Katherine Brown was featured. “I think it’s the greatest thing in the world to have your own place,” she said. “I’m 63 years old. My life now is much more comfortable. It’s cleaner, safer, healthier. More beautiful.” After being homeless for 11 years, Katherine was referred to Vyse Avenue by Bronx Psychiatric Center.


In addition to its 64 studio apartments, Vyse Avenue includes an office suite for on-site supportive services, a community room, computer room, laundry room, exercise room, and a back yard and garden.


About Community Access:


  • Founded in 1974, Community Access empowers mental health consumers to reach their potentials.  The people we serve too often lack access to life’s most basic needs—housing, food, health care, education, and employment.
  • Our programs are a daily resource to more than 2,000 individuals and families who rely on us for education, affordable housing, counselling, self-help, hot meals, and many more services designed to help them gain new skills, lift themselves out of poverty, and lead healthy, independent lives.
  • In 2011, Community Access was selected as a Top 10 Semifinalist in the New York Times Company Nonprofit Excellence Awards.
  • For more information about Community Access, visit:



Delaney Ruston, MD, Partners With Who, Fountain House, And 100 Organizations For Global Web Screening Of Hidden Pictures On World Mental Health Day


(NEW YORK) – On October 10th, World Mental Health Day, physician and filmmaker Delaney Ruston, joined by representatives from the World Health Organization (WHO) and other special guests, will screen her film Hidden Pictures at Fountain House. The event is part of a 24-hour global web screening during which nearly 100 organizations will stream the film for their audiences around the globe.


Ruston grew up in the shadow of her dad’s schizophrenia and has spent years caring for the underserved. Her film, Hidden Pictures, weaves her story and those of individual families in India, China, Africa, France and the U.S. dealing with bipolar illness, depression, schizophrenia and anxiety.


“At several points I nearly abandoned this project because the silence around mental illness was so unexpectedly extreme. I am so grateful to those individuals that did come forward—their stories have shown me that our experiences are far more similar than different. The reality is that problems with discrimination and access to services and treatment are universal. I want my film to inspire people to get involved.” – Dr. Delaney Ruston


Ruston’s documentary comes at a historic moment as the WHO launches its Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan that has 194 countries promising better service for people living with mental illness. Upon seeing Hidden Pictures, the WHO’S Director of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Dr. Shekhar Saxena asked to partner with Ruston, using her film as the cornerstone of the organization’s outreach program.


Fountain House President Kenneth Dudek remarks, “There is a worldwide crisis in mental healthcare. Hidden Pictures speaks to this issue and demonstrates the vital need for the development of more community-based healthcare programs. Serious mental illness robs millions of people around the world and their families of social connection, productivity, and hope. We know how to support their recovery; we must mobilize to do so.”



Fountain House in New York City, the leading community-based mental health recovery model, will be screening Hidden Pictures on October 10th and presenting Dr. Ruston, WHO Dr. Jacob Kumaresan, Fountain House President Kenneth Dudek, and other “global citizens” in a panel discussion.

Fountain House is located at 425 West 47th Street, New York, NY 10036. The event will begin at 6 pm, and is by invitation only.



Delaney Ruston is an award-winning filmmaker based in Seattle who just returned from a year in India as a Fulbright Scholar. Her work has been seen at film festivals, conferences, and on PBS. Her award-winning film, Unlisted: A Story of Schizophrenia (2010) chronicled her reunion with her father, after hiding from him for years due to his untreated schizophrenia.

Ruston’s latest film, Hidden Pictures, was Awarded Most Moving Documentary at 2013’s Seattle True Independent Film Festival. Hidden Pictures will air nationwide on PBS beginning in May 2014.



Fountain House was founded in 1948 in New York City. Its unique, innovative and cost-effective model for mental health recovery has been replicated in more than 30 countries. The organization is recognized globally as a social innovator and leader in reducing stigma and creating opportunities in education, employment, housing, and wellness for those living with mental disorders.


Elizabeth Lion, Fountain House (elion@fountainhouse.org) and

Rachel Burns, Global Health Strategies (rburns@globalhealthstrategies.com)


Lisa Dixon, M.D.,M.P.H. To Be Honored With The MHA On The Move Award At Benefit On October 17


The Mental Health Association of Westchester (MHA) is pleased to announce that Lisa Dixon, M.D., M.P.H., the Director of the Center for Practice Innovations (CPI) at the New York State Psychiatric Institute will receive MHA’s on the move Award on Thursday, October 17 at the Metropolis Country Club in White Plains.  The annual event benefits and builds mental health services in Westchester.  The honor recognizes an individual who advocates for improved mental health and promotes an understanding of mental health issues.


As CPI director, Dr. Dixon oversees key activities for the Office of Mental Health in implementing evidenced based practices for persons diagnosed with serious mental illness. She is currently the Principal Investigator of the NIMH-funded Recovery After Initial Schizophrenia Episode Implementation and Evaluation Study (RAISE-IES) which has developed and fielded an innovative model, the Connection Program, designed to improve outcomes and reduce disability for the population of individuals experiencing their first episode of psychosis (FEP).


Dr. Dixon is leading the statewide FEP initiative, OnTrackNY, which aims to implement the Connection Program throughout the state.  The model shows unprecedented promise for people at risk--as well as their family members.


Dr. Dixon is also a Professor of Psychiatry at the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University.  Before moving to New York last year, Dr. Dixon was a Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Division of Services Research at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in the Department of Psychiatry.  She is very proud of the studies of her group establishing NAMI’s family to family program as an evidenced based practice.


Dr. Dixon is married to Donald Goff, M.D. Director at Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research and makes her home in New York City with their two daughters.


Also being honored at the event are Andrew Solomon, winner of the National Book Award for Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity; Willa Brody, Director of Government and Community Relations, New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Ralph Lieblich, MHA Volunteer.


MHA is a community-based mental health agency that has been helping Westchester County residents for 67 years through direct services, professional and community education and advocacy.  MHA supports 18,000 individuals annually through a comprehensive array of mental health services for all ages at licensed mental health clinics, and to best meet each individual’s need, at home or at a community location.  MHA’s belief that every individual can and will recover is at the core of its mission.


For more information, contact Constance Moustakas at 914-345-5900 ext. 7511 or write development@mhawestchester.org.  To learn more about MHA, visit www.mhawestchester.org.