Judge Orders NYS to Change Housing for Mentally Ill

A federal judge is ordering New York State to build at least 4,500 housing units for mentally ill individuals living in adult homes.

Judge Nicholas Garaufis had already ruled that the state was breaking the law by isolating the mentally ill in warehouse-like conditions. Cliff Zucker, director of Disability Advocates, says the mentally ill deserve to live in their own apartments, where they can receive services and control their own lives, "as opposed to living in a large institution with, in many instances, hundreds of other people where you're assigned roommates. You're assigned seats, you don't even get to choose who you eat next to," Zucker says. "You stand on line to get your money. You stand on line to get your medicine."

The operator of several adult homes disagrees, saying the decision could force thousands of mentally ill people from stable homes to independent living, for which many are not prepared.