Support the Mentally Ill of New York City sign now

We the undersigned call upon our elected officials in New York City to display their
courage and compassion by publicly supporting the efforts of Saint Vincent
Catholic Medical Centers of New York, and other social work agencies, in placing
our citizens in need in supportive housing programs. In particular, we urge
our civic leaders to support the efforts of SVCMC to establish a community
based supportive housing facility in Saint George, Staten Island.

It is time to abandon fear and prejudice in our treatment of the mentally ill.
We must embrace community living programs, group homes, and other compassionate
methods of dealing with the vulnerable people in our society. Treating them as
criminals or undesirables should be unworthy of an enlightened society like ours.
In point of fact, the issue of the 'stability' of these people, sometimes raised
by community boards, is a non sequitor. Hospital systems in New York offer
a continuum of care in which the afflicted move from inpatient units to halfway
houses to supportive apartments (with very frequent staff supervision) and
finally to supported housing units - gathering the necessary skills for
independent living along the way. By the time they reach the supported housing
level of care our sisters and brothers with mental illness are often working
and have been stable for an extended period of time. They are not only not a
threat to the community but are productive members of any community that is
able to accept them as fellow citizens.

When mentally ill people are treated with dignity, they respond well.
When they are dumped on the streets, they endure the stigma of being
homeless and/or are labeled criminals and their coping mechanisms collapse.
They may return to an inpatient unit or be absorbed into the criminal justice
system. The failure of our city to care for the most vulnerable of its
citizens causes untold suffering and costs taxpayers vast sums of money.

Supportive housing is the least costly and the most effective way of
assisting the mentally ill in their struggle to have stable, productive
lives. In New York City, a prison cell costs $60,000 annually. A bed in
an inpatient psychiatric facility: $113,000. Even a homeless shelter
bed costs $20,000. A supportive housing bed costs only $12,500 and
residents receive the support they need to begin to reconstruct their
lives, support that isn't available in Rikers, a shelter or a psychiatric
inpatient unit.

In supported housing programs like those run by the Saint Vincent Catholic
Medical Center, mentally ill people live in apartments, staffed by counselors
who help the afflicted gather sufficient skills to return to work and live
independently, becoming valuable members of society. This approach to treating
the mentally ill is the only path appropriate for an enlightened society
based on democratic principles. We the undersigned look to our elected
officials to provide leadership and help communities and community boards
understand that fear and prejudice only compound the suffering of our fellow
citizens afflicted with mental illness. All citizens concerned with this
issue should welcome the recovering victim of mental illness into their
community - rather than blaming the victim and perpetuating suffering.


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Lucia WilsonBy:
LGTBIn:
Petition target:
Representative Vito Fossella, Assemblyman John Lavelle, Councilman Michael McMahon, Senator Diane Savino and Senator John Marchi

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