NAMI-NYS Alert Regarding Housing
Mental Health Services & Housing Discussed in Wednesday's Democratic Gubernatorial Debate
On Wednesday, August 29, Andrew Cuomo and Cynthia Nixon exchanged policy ideas and proposals during the only debate before the Democratic gubernatorial primary on September 13. The candidates discussed a wide-range of issue areas, one of which was focused on homelessness and mental health.
Below is an unedited transcript of the dialogue:
Maurice DuBois (CBS New York): Governor, we see in the tragedy of homeless people living on our streets every single day, people many of them suffering from mental illness, yet police are prohibited by state law from removing them under -- except under -- the most extreme conditions. Should the law be changed to allow homeless people to be taken off the street against their will in order to get help and shelter for their safety and for the safety of others?
Andrew Cuomo: The law is you cannot incarcerate a person involuntarily or take them to a mental health facility unless they're an imminent risk to themselves or others...
DuBois: Or even to a shelter?
Andrew Cuomo: That is a basic civil rights law. I worked in homeless care for 25 years. I started in my 20s helping the homeless. I was President Clinton's Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, working on poverty issues all across the country and homelessness issues all across the country. I've been in shelters all across the country. The -- it's not going to work if the police have to force a mentally ill person into a shelter. Because even if you bring them to the shelter you can't keep them there as a matter of law. That would be involuntary institutionalization. We need a shelter system and a mental health shelter system that works. We know how to do -- it's called safe havens. Mental health professionals who develop a relationship with a person on the street and slowly you develop trust and you bring them into a safe, clean, decent shelter. Most homeless people leave the shelters, because they're dangerous. It's not an irrational act to leave a shelter, in many ways it's a rational act. The violence in shelters is at an all-time high. People are getting killed and that's why they're leaving the shelters. We need a better shelter system. We need more mental health beds. We need more community residences for people who are mentally ill on a permanent basis. But you're not going to force people by law by violating their civil liberties into a shelter system that's dangerous.
DuBois: Ms. Nixon?
Cynthia Nixon: Yes, I agree we must not force them into shelters and we need the state to make a much bigger investment and the city to make a much bigger investment in homelessness in -- in ending homelessness. But we have such a homelessness crisis in large part because we have such a housing crisis and I don't think it's any coincidence that we have one of the largest housing crisises that we've ever seen in this state when the number one contributor to Andrew Cuomo's campaigns are the real estate industry and corporate developers. We need a governor of New York State who will fight not only to renew our rent laws when they expire next year, but to strengthen them and to expand them because frankly gentrification is pushing people out, particularly black and brown people, out of the communities that they have grown up in, and it is an enormous problem and we need rent protections not just in buildings built before 1974, but going forward, and not just in the eight counties in which we have rent regulation now, but across the state. It is the number one issue that people upstate, downstate talk to me about.
Cuomo: There's no doubt that we have an affordable housing crisis. We have expanded the number of units kept in the system under rent control for the first time in 40 years. We have to do more. We have to raise the vacancy decontrol. We have the largest state investment in history in affordable housing, 20 billion dollars. The city needs to be part of it which miss Nixon keeps leaving out and a big problem is the NYCHA housing is a national disgrace. I know it's politically sensitive, but we're losing thousands of units in NYCHA and that's one of the main problems.
Click here to watch the debate. You can fast forward to the 48 minute mark when the issue is discussed. Governor Cuomo makes the statement about hospital beds and community residencies at the 50 minute mark.
Click here to read our Action Agenda sheet on housing issues.
Click here to read the New York Daily News Voices of the People letter we wrote on the reduction of psychiatric beds.
Click here to watch the Mental Health Now episode on mental health housing.
HOUSING ISSUES WILL BE ADDRESSED AT
2018 NAMI-NYS EDUCATION CONFERENCE
The 2018 NAMI-NYS Education Conference will take a in-depth look at Mental Health Housing. Along with presenting a Leader of Mental Health Awareness Award to Toni Lasicki thanking her for her leadership of the Bring it Home Campaign, there will also be a two-hour focus session exploring all aspects of mental health housing on Saturday, October 27th from 4:30-6:30. Click here to register today!