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Help needed for community-based mental health housing in NY

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) - Currently across New York State, there are 40,000 community-based mental health housing units.

The Bring It Home campaign launched on Tuesday at the state Capitol in order to raise awareness and urge the state to increase funding for community mental health housing.

"Without increases year after year, the programs are struggling to find staff, struggling to pay expenses," Ralph Fasano, President of the Association for Community Living, said.

"I got evicted from my apartment, I went to the VA to go through their program and then I was homeless," Frank Giaramida, a veteran, said.

Frank, a combat veteran, lost his fiancé to a brain aneurysm and lost his job shortly after. After spending some time homeless, he found one of these community mental health housing units.

"I had no income at the time, so if it wasn't this I don't know where I would have gone."

The Bring It Home Coalition explains that by keeping more homeless people off the street or out of jail, they are actually helping save the state money. Even housing someone in a state mental hospital can cost the state around $300,000 a year, whereas these housing units can keep someone for around $18,000 a year.

"Integration works so much better than institutionalization, we know that. We also know that institutionalization is very expensive," Fasano said.

Due to inflation, the number of people the state allocates funds for is much less than the actual number that can be cared for. For example, according to the group, Western New York such as Buffalo and Rochester, the state has budgeted for over 5,000 people, but in reality, only a little over 4,000 are being served, leaving around 600 people on their own.

"What we need to do is take a look at all of the years that we didn't receive increases and look at the inflation rate and try to match those two."

Governor Andrew Cuomo just recently announced that New York is possibly facing a $4 billion deficit going into next year's budget, which would definitely impact any sort of increase in a number of state-funded programs.

"We're going to push it. We're going to push it as hard as we can for the next six months. So I'm hoping that he will come around," Toni Lasicki, Executive Director of Association for Community Living, said.

No bill has been crafted yet to increase funding for these housing programs.

Regional breakdown:

  • Western New York (includes Buffalo & Rochester): approximately 4,436 people are currently being served, but the state has "budgeted" for 5,041 - leaving about 600 unserved.
  • Central New York (includes Syracuse & Binghamton/Elmira): approximately 2,389 currently served, 2,778 "budgeted"
  • Hudson Valley (includes Albany & Hudson Valley): approximately 4,403 currently served, 4,786 "budgeted"
  • Long Island: approximately 3,711 currently served, 4,124 "budgeted"
  • New York City: approximately 17,696 currently being served, 21,067 "budgeted"

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