Mental Health Housing Waiting List Legislation Introduced In The State Senate

Thomas P. Morahan

January 25, 2008

New York State Senator Thomas P. Morahan, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities today reintroduced legislation (S 568) establishing a waiting list for people with mental illnesses seeking community housing and support services.

"Matching an individual's needs with suitable housing and services in the most integrated setting is very important and needed. This bill is a powerful first step in identifying current and future needs for mental health housing in New York State. The legislation would help to bring the state in line with the Americans with Disabilities Act, " said Senator Morahan.

In 2007 the legislation passed the Senate and Assembly, but was vetoed by Governor Spitzer.

"I anticipate that the merits of this legislation will result in passage in both houses of the legislature. And I am also confident, that when the Governor reviews the facts, data, as well as the needs of those with serious mental illnesses, he will concur that the time has indeed come for this legislation to become law," said Morahan.

Community housing waiting list legislation is supported by leading mental health providers, consumers, family members, advocates, housing developers, social policy experts and legal rights organizations, many of whom rallied in Albany late last year to urge New York State officials to address the housing crisis for people with serious mental illnesses. The New York State Campaign for Mental Health Housing, a bipartisan coalition of over 50 organizations supports the establishment of community waiting lists within the NYS Office of Mental Health service system.

The NYS Campaign for Mental Health Housing has worked over the years to educate the public and government policy makers about the need for New York State to undertake a comprehensive plan to:

Preserve approximately 30,000 existing units of supportive and licensed housing

Reform existing models and programs to meet the complex needs of the clients being served; and

Develop at least 35,000 new units of mental health housing statewide over the next ten years

Senator Morahan's legislation would require the establishment of community housing waiting lists with the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) service system. It would also direct each provider of housing services within the OMH system to provide:

on a monthly basis a list of each person referred to housing

a list of each person admitted to housing

a list of each person applying for housing

a list of each person withdrawing an application for housing

a list of each person denied admission to housing provided by an OMH provider

The legislation requires community-based agencies performing assessments of person with a documented mental illness to provide OMH with the names of individuals who have been assessed, and who meet the eligibility criteria for funded and/or licensed housing programs. The bill also would require OMH to publish such waiting lists on a monthly basis.


SPONSOR: MORAHAN             




An act to amend the mental hygiene law, in relation to the establishment

of community housing waiting lists for adults within the office of

mental health service system



This legislation would enable the state to track the wait time for

persons with psychiatric disabilities seeking supportive, supervised or

congregate housing in the office of mental health system.



- Amends section 7.15 of the mental hygiene law, providing for estab-

lishing waiting lists.

- Defines terms "provider of housing services" and "agency or institu-


- The agency shall forward for collection names of the applicants to the

office of mental health.

- The Commissioner shall prepare a written report on the community hous-

ing waiting list. The report shall be submitted to the governor and the




There is a great need for the establishment of a waiting list that would

truly reflect the need for housing and related services for people in

New York with mental disabilities, and also match those people up with

appropriate housing, in the most integrated setting. This bill would

help to bring the state in line with the already-existing obligations

under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, the Supreme Court's

decision in Olmstead v. L.C., and New York State Executive Law sections


S568 MORAHAN             ::::