2009-10-02 / Letters

Closing Mental Health Facilities Helps the Rockaways

Dear Editor,

I disagree with the letters saying that closing the adult mental health facilities will hurt the Rockaways because all the residents will move into housing in the Rockaways.

Not only is Judge Garaufis correct that New York City warehousing mentally ill adults in group facilities violates the Americans With Disabilities Act, but the closure of these facilities will improve our neighborhood.

The existing residents of these facilities have no special connection with the Rockaways except that the City of New York has placed them in our neighborhood because we have so many such facilities that used to be nice places. If these facilities closed, the City would not and could not place all the residents in the Rockaways anymore. They would be placed around the five boroughs, and we would no longer have such a concentrated cluster of mental health facilities in the Rockaways. That would be a huge increase in the quality of life in our neighborhood. The present situation is that the owners provide minimal to no health care to the residents. That's why the residents are roaming about improperly medicated, panhandling, etc. Our tax dollars support The Park Inn. We are paying far more than an apartment rental to warehouse its residents, who never get better because the purpose of The Park Inn is to make profits, and the untreated residents and the people in the neighborhood be damned. The only item getting better at these facilities is the bottom line. The other facilities are not any better.

We all deserve better. You wouldn't want your family member living in The Park Inn. No one would. Nor is it callous to say that we will be better off with a much smaller concentration of untreated mentally ill adults in our neighborhood. The present situation benefits no one except the greedy owner of the facility. I hope that mainstreaming works, but nothing could be worse than the present situation we have, for example, on Beach 116 Street.

We should applaud the court decision and hope it stands up on appeal. The residents deserve care and a decent place to live, and access to health care, and to not be stigmatized and forced to live in a group home run by irresponsible greedy owners. The neighborhood would be a far better place for everyone if we stopped being the capitol of adult mental health facilities in New York City.

HOWARD SIROTA

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