Court overturns ruling to move mentally ill adult-home residents into community

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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit overturned a ruling this week that would have given more than 4,000 New York City adult-home residents with severe mental illness the opportunity to move into the community in supported-housing units. Adult homes were created for frail elderly people, but many people with psychiatric disabilities were discharged to the homes as the state’s mental hospitals were downsized.

The decision was vacated on a technical ground, according to Disability Advocates Inc., which filed the lawsuit on behalf of the adult-home residents in 2003. The Court of Appeals ruled that Disability Advocates did not have “standing” to bring the lawsuit.

A judge ruled more than two years ago that the residents were not receiving care in the most integrated setting possible, a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and other federal law. A Court of Appeals judge placed a hold on the order a year ago.

The Court of Appeals said its decision likely is not the judiciary’s last word on the case, which could be sent back to U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis, Disability Advocates said in a statement.  The appellate court did not question Garaufis’ conclusion that New York is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by housing people with psychiatric disabilities in adult homes, said Cliff Zucker, executive director of Disability Advocates.

“We hope New York State will negotiate a remedy to end the unnecessary institutionalization of adult home residents. We will work with New York to solve this problem, hopefully without the need for future litigation,” Zucker said.

New York Mental Health Commissioner Michael Hogan told lawmakers in February that state officials were waiting for the appellate court decision but were “considering a conversation with the plaintiffs about a settlement in that case that might be a win-win.”

Margueritte Wilkens, who lives in the Bronxwood Home for the Aged, said she was disappointed by the decision. She went to Bronxwood two years ago after spending time in a nursing home because of health problems. She is 64.

“I had high hopes of returning to a normal life in the community,” she said in a statement.

Roughly 28,000 individuals statewide live in more than 450 adult homes.

 

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2 Comments

  1. Well!…Jim Webb (must) follow up on his comprehension on the topic and logic behind this Judgement. At least; its the greatest thing to note that The Republic’s Judiciary is playing its Role!

    God Bless America.
    HABIBHASAN-An American Storyteller

  2. notlaughinginwastechester on

    Isn,t American disabilities Inc. An incorporated business? Don’t they make money by the services they render to the adult home residents serviced in smaller housing units?

    Not only did they not have any standing,as the judiciary pointed out, it was clearly self promotion of these small businesses, not what was in the best interest of the community they were originally developed to assist. Nor have these types of facilities been clearly shown to be in the best interest to the community of those with severe mental illness, not to mention the potential harm to the taxpaying community surrounding.
    I also hope there is a compromise, with the understanding that it is taking into account that you cannot mix apples with oranges, and that, yes, one wants a less restrictive environment, without losing site of the welfare of the community at large for the sake of a business scheme.