2009-10-30 / Top Stories

Two Weeks To Respond To Adult Homes Decision

By Howard Schwach

The State Health Department has been given a two-week extension to respond to a federal ruling which would impact more than 1,700 residents in the dozen Rockaway adult homes named in the lawsuit, officials say.

The deadline for the state to respond to the lawsuit, which indicated that the mentally ill residents were "warehoused" in the senior homes without their Constitutional rights, was October 23, but was moved back to November 6 earlier this week.

Judge Nicholas Garaufis of the Federal District Court in Brooklyn recently ruled that New York State discriminated against thousands of mentally ill people in New York City by placing them in the privately run adult homes, which effectively replaced state run psychiatric hospitals more than forty years ago. The non-profit group that sued the state had asked Garaufis to stop the state from steering mentally ill clients into 28 adult homes in the city, each of which has more than 120 beds.

While Garaufis stopped short of ordering the homes closed, he told the state that it has until October 23 to come up with a plan to remediate the problems with the homes or to move the residents to apartment settings.

The ruling, which applies to "mentally ill people who are not considered dangerous to themselves or others," strongly suggested that the state will have to begin finding individual apartments or small homes for virtually all adult home residents who wanted one.

Garaufis wrote that adult homes were "segregated settings" that kept residents from integrating into the community at large. "The state has denied thousands of individuals with mental illness in New York City the opportunity to receive services in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs."

He said that the homes violate the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Under his ruling, the mentally ill who already populate such adult homes as the Park Inn Hotel on the boardwalk at Beach 116 Street and the Surfside Manor on Beach 95 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard would be moved to private homes and apartments throughout the community, advocates for the mentally ill say.

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