Quality of Life For All
There was a failure of treatment for the residents of the Lucerne shelter and zero transparency for citizens who wish to hold the government accountable.
Because of this, at least three Lucerne residents have died, crime is up, and quality of life is down for all those involved. With a budget so large, and a city so full of caregivers, there is no good reason for this failure of treatment. Everyone wants to see the unsheltered find permanent residence, gainful employment, and a positive role in their community. It is impossible to achieve this goal without consistent treatment. This is true for everyone, everywhere, not just for the homeless in our neighborhood, and yet our priorities do not reflect that.
This is going to change. This link will take you to a public resource directory my team has built to provide transparency and accountability to the city's spending for our seriously mentally ill population. Below you can read my 4 pronged approach to making life better for us all. Informed by experts, community activists, and the unsheltered themselves we know these can make all the difference:
1. METRICS -
The fact is we need better metrics on treatment results and the efficacy of our programs. This is a necessary and bare minimum measure. Clear, transparent, and results oriented metrics better involve the community and crucially provide clarity on our programs. Our programs must be held accountable to the mission of putting our unsheltered citizens on the path towards health and housing.
2. THRIVE NYC's Agenda -
Currently THRIVE has a $850 million budget which is largely allotted towards general public health rather than those who need care the most: the Seriously Mentally Ill. As of now, a mere $134 million of the $850 million goes towards the Seriously Mentally Ill. Serious Mental Illness plagues the single, unsheltered adult population of NYC. Around the shelter, Housing First is not enough. Quality care is the real pathway to changing the lives of those crippled by addiction and psychosis. The money is there, the resources are available. With a different mission, THRIVE NYC could have prevented the three deaths at the Lucerne along with the concurrent rise in crime and drop in quality of life for all those in and around the shelter.
3. KENDRA'S LAW -
Kendra's Law is far and away the most effective program for helping the Seriously Mentally Ill who refuse treatment. The Law even has support from the mentally ill man who is in prison right now for the subway murder of Kendra Webdale in 1999. At the time of his arrest, he refused treatment, was convicted of murder, and therefore forfeited his free will. City Council has the power to de facto expand Kendra's Law by way of budgeting and coordinating with state legislatures. Many of the residents at our shelters and the unsheltered in our neighborhood need consistent healthcare if they are to avoid harming themselves or others. With a refocused THRIVE supporting its infrastructure, expanding Kendra's Law's reach will save more minds and more lives.
4. NYC SAFE -
A promising announcement from Mayor DeBlasio that went nowhere, NYC Safe promised to serve as an "evidence-driven program to support the population of New Yorkers with untreated serious illness who pose a concern for violent behavior." It planned to incorporate:
1. increased coordination between criminal justice, health, and homeless services.
2. increased investment in consistent, high quality health treatment
The problem? This slam dunk initiative was provided with a $22 million budget and no focus, while THRIVE devoted $30 million to anti-stigma ads throughout the city and on the airwaves. With THRIVE's mandate realigned we can pour money into effective programs like NYC Safe.