Governor Hochul Updates New Yorkers on State Efforts to Address Serious Mental Illness and Street Homelessness

Governor Hochul Updates New Yorkers on State Efforts to Address Serious Mental Illness and Street Homelessness

S:US’ SOS Team Richard Byamugisha, Charisse White, Jemima Babb, Crystal McClelland, and Sandrine Clarke with Governor Hochul and NYS Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan. Photo credit: NYS Governor’s Office.

New York State Governor’s Office
October 12, 2023

State-Funded ‘Safe Options Support’ Teams Have Connected Nearly 200 Formerly Homeless Individuals with Permanent Housing, Mental Health Support

Nearly 100 State-Operated Inpatient Psychiatric Beds Now Available to Treat Individuals with Serious Mental Illness

Initiatives Are Part of Governor Hochul’s $1 Billion FY24 Budget Investment to Transform the Continuum of Mental Health Care In New York

Photos of Governor Hochul Meeting Outreach Teams in Grand Central Station Available Here

Governor Kathy Hochul today updated New Yorkers on the latest State efforts to provide treatment and support for individuals with serious mental illness, part of efforts funded by her $1 billion investment in mental health care in FY 2024 State Budget. The Governor announced that Safe Options Support teams have helped nearly 200 formerly homeless individuals find permanent housing. She also highlighted 99 new state-operated inpatient psychiatric beds are now available for use – more than halfway to the goal set in her budget proposal – and that approximately 500 inpatient psychiatric beds at community hospitals will be restored by January 2024.

“We have a moral obligation to care for those struggling with mental illness, but for too long these critical issues have been ignored or left untreated,” Governor Hochul said. “That is not the case any longer: my administration’s plan to improve our mental health system is providing treatment and care to the individuals who need it most. I’m proud of the progress we’ve made and our commitment to ensuring all New Yorkers have access to the help they need.”

Established in 2022, the 11 Safe Options Supports (SOS) teams have helped secure housing placement for nearly 200 of the roughly 2,000 individuals living on the streets or in the subway system – many of whom were living with mental illness. These outreach and referral-based teams work with individuals experiencing homelessness to help build life skills and strengthen their support network so that their care can successfully be transferred to community-based providers and supports.

Under the FY 2024 budget, Governor Hochul’s plan creates eight new teams – five in New York City and three in the rest of the state –to bolster these successes. Among these new additions, several dedicated overnight outreach teams are expected to start operations in New York City in the near future.

Earlier today, Governor Hochul met with staff from Services for the UnderServed, which operates one of the SOS teams based in New York City, at Grand Central Station in Manhattan. The governor discussed the work and experiences of these multidisciplinary team members in helping New Yorkers experiencing chronic homelessness achieve stability.

Governor Hochul also updated New Yorkers on the expansion of inpatient psychiatric beds at state-operated psychiatric centers. To date, 99 new state-operated inpatient psychiatric beds are available for use, with all 150 beds outlined in her landmark mental health care plan to be brought online by Jan. 1, 2024.

The new inpatient beds at state-operated facilities were added at the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center; Buffalo Psychiatric Center; Rochester Psychiatric Center; Rockland Children’s Psychiatric Center; Greater Binghamton Health Center; South Beach Psychiatric Center; Bronx Psychiatric Center; and the Pilgrim Psychiatric Center.

Building on this progress in the five months since the state budget passed, Governor Hochul also announced that approximately 500 community hospital beds –also known as Article 28 and 31 beds –that were taken offline during the COVID-19 pandemic will be restored into service by the New Year. The Governor committed to restoring beds earlier this year and is now working to sanction those hospitals that are not compliant.

New York State Office of Mental Health Commissioner Dr. Ann Sullivan said, “Governor Hochul’s landmark plan is providing bold investments into expanding the services and care for New Yorkers living with mental health issues throughout our state. With these extraordinary investments now coming to fruition, this plan will monumentally improve the continuum of mental health care in our state and help ensure the mental health needs of New Yorkers are met. I commend Governor Hochul for continuing to make fulfilling the mental health care needs of all New Yorkers a priority of her administration.”

“My administration’s plan to improve our mental health system is providing treatment and care to the individuals who need it most,” said Governor Kathy Hochul.

Governor Hochul made increasing operational capacity for inpatient psychiatric treatment a priority in her $1 billion multi-year plan to overhaul New York State’s continuum of mental health care. This plan was adopted as part of the FY 2024 Enacted Budget, which was approved in May.

In addition to increasing inpatient capacity, Governor Hochul’s plan includes expanding outpatient community-based services, creating new supportive housing units to serve New Yorkers with mental illness, and building-out programs that have a demonstrated record of success. The plan also builds on prior investments made under Governor Hochul’s leadership, helping to close gaps and ensure the system adequately serves the mental health care needs of all New Yorkers in crisis, including marginalized and vulnerable populations.

The New York State Office of Mental Health has finalized guidance on evaluation and discharge practices for comprehensive psychiatric emergency programs and emergency departments, and for Article 28 and Private Article 31 inpatient facilities. This guidance sets the expected standard of care for assessing, evaluating and discharging individuals with behavioral health conditions and will help ensure that individuals leave with appropriate community support.

The plan will establish 50 new Critical Time Intervention care coordination teams will provide wrap-around services for discharged patients– from treatment, to housing, to community and recovery support. Simultaneously, the Office of Mental Health is developing 42 new Assertive Community Treatment teams to provide intensive community services to New Yorkers with the highest level of need.

Complementing these efforts, Governor Hochul established the state’s first Transition to Home units at the Manhattan Psychiatric Center to help provide recovery-oriented, person-centered care for individuals struggling with chronic homelessness. These two 25-bed inpatient units are staffed by a multidisciplinary team of doctors, nurses, social workers, occupational therapists, and other clinical and non-clinical personnel to provide recovery-focused treatment with a goal of eventually discharging patients to community-based care.

As part of Governor Hochul’s plan, the OMH is also developing 900 units of additional community residential step-down housing to help individuals transitioning out of hospitals or emergency rooms to build skills needed to move into a more independent housing setting. Individuals in the step-down program will be connected to SOS, ACT, and Intensive Mobile Treatment teams– all being expanded– to support their transition back to the community and to permanent supportive housing.

The plan will also develop 1,500 supportive housing units serving individuals with a serious mental illness who have less acute needs, but still require support to live independently. The plan will also triple the number of Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics providing comprehensive services for individuals requiring behavioral health support– from 13 to 39 statewide by July 2025.

Read the original press release here.

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