Congressman Paul Tonko joined housing and healthcare advocates for a virtual press conference on August 6th calling on Congress to immediately fund aid to states as part of the next stimulus bill. Lack of federal funding has led New York State to reduce funding for mental health housing programs by 20%. If New York State does not receive federal relief, 40,000 mental health housing units are at risk.
Joining the press conference were the Supportive Housing Network of NY, the Association for Community Living, NAMI New York State, the Coalition for Behavioral Health, New York State Coalition for Children’s Behavioral Health, NYAPRS, MHANYS as well as representatives from Concern for Independent Living and Rehabilitation Support Services.
Network Executive Director Laura Mascuch stressed the importance of federal relief funds, noting, “Cuts will mean two things – increased homelessness among our most vulnerable tenants and lost jobs for the staff who are holding up the safety net.”
Dean Jones, who lives in Concern for Independent Living’s Liberty Village, told attendees that supportive housing made all the difference in his life and that cuts will mean veterans like him will be made homeless: because of this program, I was able to become a productive citizen. I’m now an employee of Concern, I help people with drug abuse and mental health, and it’s a pleasure. It’s vital that they find a way to keep this program surviving.”
Congressman Paul Tonko closed out stating, “Housing is the center of the equation for health. To not assist the community with this vital need is cruel, inhumane, and might I dare say un-American.”
For press coverage on this press conference, see here.