Judge orders people labeled ‘mentally ill’ released from adult homes

A very good legal decision came down recently in New York City.

This decision was covered by a story in the March 1st New York Times, Judge Orders New York City to Move Mentally Ill out of Large, Institutional Housing.

The decision, by Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis of Federal District Court in Brooklyn, followed his ruling in September that the conditions at more than two dozen privately run adult homes in New York City violated the Americans With Disabilities Act by leaving approximately 4,300 mentally ill residents isolated in warehouselike conditions.

When the problem is a lack of housing, maybe the solution is to provide more housing.

The remedial plan offered by Judge Garaufis, drawn from a proposal presented by advocates for the mentally ill that was backed by the Justice Department, calls on New York to develop at least 1,500 units of so-called supported housing a year for the next three years in New York City. That would give nearly all residents the opportunity to move out of adult homes.

‘Adult homes’ are not the right words to use to describe these facilities in which the residents are treated like irresponsible children, or incompetent invalids.

The lawsuit was filed in 2003 by Disability Advocates, a nonprofit legal services group, after a series of articles in The New York Times that described a system in which residents were poorly monitored and barely cared for, left to swelter in the summer and sometimes subjected to needless medical treatment and operations for Medicaid reimbursement.

Abuses and human rights violations, as the above indicates, are frequent in these facilities. In an adult home, as in a state hospital, people are often warehoused, or kept in cold storage, apart from the meaningful, give and take relationships that might exist in a more vibrant and dynamic environment.

The Judge’s decision represents a rejection of the state’s proposal which would have set a cap on the number of new supported housing units created. Judge Garaufis stated that only those people with the most severe disabilities should be housed in adult homes. He left the group home an option for anybody who would chose to do so to enter, if such a person so desired.

We can only hope that other cities in New York state and beyond might follow New York City’s lead in allowing a life for those of its citizens who are recovering from the experience of institutionalization in a mental health facility.

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2 Responses

  1. You obviously have no idea what you’re talking about. This decision is VERY bad for the mentally ill adult home residents who simply cannot live on their own and are very happy in their current homes. Don’t believe everything you read, its mostly advocate lies.

    • As a person who has had some experience with group homes, adult homes, and assisted living situations, I do indeed have some knowledge of what I’m talking about. I know, for instance, of a group home in which the average stay is as long as 5 years, and these are 5 years in which the resident is waiting for an independent living situation he or she can move into, to arise.

      I would like to point out that the New York Times article quotes 2 residents of adult homes, Gloria Thomas and Erica von Nardroff. Both of these residents, eager to leave the adult home situations they find themselves stuck in, applaud Judge Garaufis’s decision. No resident of an adult home is quoted in this article disparaging the Judge’s order.

      Maybe the state, considering an appeal of the Judge’s decision, doesn’t want to spend the money, but what kind of a good reason is that one. It isn’t a good reason to hold people in these facilities, often against their wishes, and purely because they don’t have the connections to get on with their lives.

      Jeffrey J. Edelman’s is the only other voice quoted in the article in favor of keeping people in these adult homes. He is the president of a coalition representing a large block of adult homes in New York City, and so he would speak on their behalf. He has a vested interest in doing so. This doesn’t make the decision a bad one and, in fact, it makes it a good one.

      When people can live independently, they should be allowed to live independently. The Judge himself said he is only releasing people who are not so serious disturbed that they can’t live outside of an adult home.

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