In the 1960s, adult group homes for people with mental illness started to replace psychiatric hospitals, which were old, depressing, dangerous institutions. The hope was that the smaller group homes would be an improvement, and at first they were, but over the last 50 years, these group homes have become sites of neglect and danger, just like the old institutions of the past.
The group homes leave the patients with very little money and very little opportunity to be independent. Meals are served on a schedule with few options. Because of a number of lawsuits against the group homes, New York State agreed to move roughly 4,000 people into better living conditions with an opportunity to be independent.
The new housing arrangement is meant to foster independence through supportive assistance. The transition was supposed to be complete within five years, and the deadline is in July.
But very few people have been moved, and the federal judge overseeing the case is angry. He thinks there is a secret agreement between the NY Department of Health and the private home operators, and is looking into whether fraud is involved. Stay tuned.