Mental Health Advocates: NY Must Invest in Hardpressed Community Housing, Services!

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-------- Original message -------- From: Harvey Rosenthal <HarveyR at nyaprs.org> Date: 02/23/2016 9:24 AM (GMT-05:00) To: Harvey Rosenthal <HarveyR at nyaprs.org> Subject: Mental Health Advocates: NY Must Invest in Hardpressed Community Housing, Services!

N E W S R E LE A S E

Mental Health Advocates: New York Must Invest Now in Hardpressed Housing, Community Services!

Contact: Harvey Rosenthal, 518-527-0564 Matthew Shapiro, NAMI: 518-542-3437 Toni Lasicki, ACL: 518-441-5651 Glenn Liebman, MHANYS 518-360-7916

Over 700 advocates representing New Yorkers with psychiatric disabilities, their families and community providers came to Albany today to press Governor Cuomo and state legislators to make critically needed investments in community housing and mental health services that they say are essential to address steadily rising demands amid years of flat budgets.

"There has never been a better time for the state to keep its promise to people with serious mental health conditions and their families," said Harvey Rosenthal, executive director of the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services. He pointed to the state's recent $3.2 billion settlement with Morgan Stanley, $215 million in 'reserve funds' that have been identified in the current budget and $340 million to fund toll tax credit for Thruway motorists.

"Providing assistance to New Yorkers with the most serious needs must take precedence over giving a tax credit for frequent Thruway users," said Rosenthal.

The groups called on state officials to address the distressed condition of the state's community mental health housing system.

"One of the primary concerns for NAMI members living throughout New York is the need for housing with the adequate supports for their loved ones, "said Wendy Burch, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness of NYS. "No one can even begin the process to live a productive life without a safe place in which to live."

"With the proposed closure of hospital beds, NAMI-NYS is concerned that many of the supported housing providers who will be responsible for taking in this population simply will not have the resources to provide the proper supports to meet their multitude of needs," said Burch.

They also called for the state to shore up an array of community based services and supports, including treatment, rehabilitation, crisis and family and peer support services.

"With only one small increase in funding over the last seven years, community mental health providers struggle to provide quality services and supports that keep people in communities and out of hospitals, jails, prisons and homelessness," said Glenn Liebman, executive director of the Mental Health Association of NYS.

"Without funding increases, it becomes increasingly more difficult to offer even current levels of service, to retain and recruit quality staff and to prepare for the daunting transition to Medicaid managed care," he said.

Liebman called on the administration and the legislature to invest $90 to shore up the community safety net and ensure access to quality and cost effective services that keep people thriving in the community and out of more costly settings.

While housing providers were encouraged by recent proposals to add new beds, they insisted that the state address the ever worsening crisis that existing housing programs are facing.

"While we thank Governor Cuomo for his promise to create 20,000 new supportive housing units, existing OMH Housing programs have experienced up to 40% in cuts of approximately $92.9 million due to inflation since 1990," said Toni Lasicki, executive director of the Association for Community Living.

"Existing programs must be made whole if we want to ensure that safe and appropriate housing opportunities continue to be available for people who need the supports that these programs currently provide," said Lasicki.

The groups are gathering in the Hart Auditorium in the Egg this morning and will be marching outside the Capital and holding meetings with legislators or their staff.