Plans Underway to Get Mental Health Consumers Out of Adult Homes
By Jota Borgmann, Senior Staff Attorney, MFY Legal Services, Inc.
And into other, hopefully better, housing options
Many New York City adult home residents with mental illness are unsure what opportunities they have to move to community housing. In 2009, a federal court held that New York’s practice of segregating thousands of people with mental illness in large adult homes is discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In April 2012, that decision was vacated on appeal on a technical ground, but the trial court’s finding of discrimination was not questioned.
Two important things have happened in the last year. First, in August 2012, the State Office of Mental Health issued a request for proposals for supported housing providers to create 1,050 housing units for adult home residents in Brooklyn and Queens. The supporting housing providers who were awarded contracts include: Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services, FEGS Health and Human Services, Institute for Community Living, Transitional Services for New York, Comunilife, and Federation of Organizations. Those providers, along with Health Homes and Managed Long Term Care Plans, should be reaching out to residents in Brooklyn and Queens adult homes soon and some have already begun.
January 16, 2013, the State Department of Health (DOH) issued new rules about certain adult homes, which it calls “transitional adult homes.” Transitional adult homes are adult homes with 80 beds or more where at least 25% of the residents have a serious mental illness. The new regulations say that these adult homes cannot admit new residents who have a serious mental illness. They also require the homes to create compliance plans. An adult home’s plan must set forth how the home will reduce the number of residents with a serious mental illness by placing them in housing in the community. The plan must also identify how the home will meet the needs of its residents while implementing the plan, including how it will help residents develop independent living skills and ensure they have access to mental health services.
The selected (see sidebar) adult homes must come up with compliance plans by May 16, 2013. If a transitional adult home fails to submit a compliance plan, the DOH will make a compliance plan for it. The DOH has to review the plans and decide whether to approve them by August 14, 2013. Once approved, adult homes must implement the plans over a reasonable period of time.
If you live in a transitional adult home and you are a person with a serious mental illness, the adult home’s compliance plan should provide you with other housing options. This process could take several years. Note that the regulation does not require the adult home to move all residents with serious mental illness, but merely to reduce the percentage of residents with mental illness below 25%.
Residents at some adult homes have reported receiving misinformation from adult home staff about the regulations; for example, they report that they have been told that homes will soon close or that they will have to be transferred to a nursing home. No adult homes have closed as a result of the regulations and the regulations do not require that residents be moved to a nursing home as part of any compliance plan.
Note: Adult home residents in New York City who have questions about supported housing or the transitional adult home regulations can call MFY toll-free at (877) 417-2427.
Pullout: “If you live in a transitional adult home and you are a person with a serious mental illness, the adult home’s compliance plan should provide you with other housing options.”