JLF Triangle Blog

Get ready for more homeless people in N.C.

If you track the upward trend of deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill since the 1960s, you’ll find an increase in the number of homeless nationwide. You can see the effects of this policy by visiting the Durham Public Library on a very hot or very cold day.

It can only get worse.

The U.S. Department of Justice has ruled that North Carolina places too much emphasis on institutionalizing the mentally ill instead of “providing support in the community.” The DOJ will work with North Carolina to develop a “voluntary compliance agreement,” which likely will mean 1) lots more spending, and 2) more homeless on the street:

After an eight-month investigation, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has issued a letter of findings accusing the State of North Carolina of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by unnecessarily institutionalizing mental health patients instead of providing support in the community.  The DOJ’s investigation was prompted by a complaint filed in July 2010 by Disability Rights North Carolina, the state’s protection and advocacy agency for people with disabilities.
“Finally, this is a critical step towards true recovery for people with mental illness in North Carolina,” said Vicki Smith, Executive Director of Disability Rights NC.  “The State’s bias towards institutionalization of people with mental illness has gone unchecked for far too long.”

Those quotes are from an emailed news release. Don’t have a link yet.

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