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Institutions no longer sole option for mentally disabled in NY

People in New York who live with mental disabilities face a unique set of challenges. Aside from having to cope with whatever disability they have, these people also have to live in a world where mental conditions are not well-understood by the average person. Unfortunately, this misunderstanding has led to policies that hinder people with mental disabilities. Last week, however, Gov. Cuomo made major changes that will hopefully benefit New York residents who have mental disabilities.

Last week, the governor and his administration shook up for the better the way long-term care for those with mental disabilities is administered in New York. While thousands of people with mental conditions have been kept in institutions, the consent decree allows all but the most severely disabled to live on their own if they want to.

Should a person decide to move into their own apartment, he or she would still have access to treatment and other services they needed to manage their disability. This type of arrangement would be called supported housing. To provide housing for the people who choose to leave institutions, New York City would have to set up at least 2,000 units.

The change comes after bad conditions in homes for people with mental disabilities was exposed through a series of articles in the New York Times. Because state are mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act to provide integrated living for people with mental disabilities. The state will have five years to determine how much housing and what type will best fit the needs of the individuals currently living in institutions.

Living with a mental disability is not easy, and having to live in an institution that limits freedom and independence likely doesn't help. Fortunately, New York is changing its ways to address the real needs of the people. Hopefully many of those living in institutions will have better lives after this transition.

Source: The New York Times, "Ending Long Battle, Cuomo Agrees to Plan to House Mentally Ill," Mosi Secret, July 23

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