MENTAL HEALTH HOUSING ADVOCATES URGE STATE TO IMMEDIATELY RELEASE WITHHELD FUNDING

MENTAL HEALTH HOUSING ADVOCATES URGE STATE TO IMMEDIATELY RELEASE WITHHELD FUNDING
Group cites concerns around continuity of care, increased COVID-19 exposure

ALBANY, NY—New York State announced a 20% reduction of funding for currently
contracted community-based mental health services — and warned that additional funding
could be withheld absent federal action. These cuts directly impact community-based
housing programs for people with serious psychiatric disabilities, and could result in them
becoming homeless. In response, Sebrina Barrett, executive director, Association for
Community Living, said:

“More than 40,000 vulnerable New Yorkers with severe mental illnesses depend on
community-based housing programs to provide stability and access to key services and
treatment, including management of medications. Withholding these funds impacts
payments for rent and critical services for 7,300 of these residents as current cuts are
focused on counties in Western and Central New York, and the Hudson Valley.
“We urge the state to release this funding immediately to ensure the continuity of care for
those New Yorkers with severe mental illnesses.

“This unexpected decrease makes providers choose between paying a percentage of all
rents currently due, or deciding which rents will be withheld in full, and could result in
hundreds of severely mentally ill persons losing their homes, daily medication management
and access to supportive services. In addition, some organizations will be forced to halt
admissions. This jeopardizes the housing and access to services for residents who can
succeed in community settings instead of less humane, and more costly, options—
hospitalization, incarceration, or homeless shelters—all of which would also increase their
exposure to COVID-19.

“Throughout this pandemic, Gov. Cuomo has repeatedly recognized the importance of
mental health and the significant impact this crisis has had on the mental health of all New
Yorkers. People with severe and persistent mental illnesses on average die 20 years earlier
than the general population; they have co-occurring health conditions, placing them at
higher risk for severe illness. For those who rely on state-funded mental health housing,
this crisis has been particularly acute: of those who have tested positive for COVID-19, more
than 40% have required hospitalization and more than 15% ultimately died due to
underlying medical conditions.

“New York must restore this funding—and protect our vulnerable neighbors from the
destabilizing effects of losing their homes and support teams. Their very lives are at stake.”

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