News Articles

Hope for the Homeless: Mental Health Initiatives are Under Review

by Catherine Kirch

On Friday, October 11th, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a 30-day review of mental health services in New York City. This review is in direct response to recent events involving the homeless population.

Less than a week before the announcement, a homeless man beat five other homeless men in Chinatown while they slept, killing four and seriously injuring the fifth. More recently, another homeless man attacked a six-year-old boy, causing severe head injuries.

The Mayor’s review will examine the city’s mental health intervention programs and the citywide application of Kendra’s Law, which allows New York courts to require individuals to accept mental health treatment. The Department of Homeless Services, Department of Health, and the New York Police department will all be involved in the month-long review.

Mental Health Awareness

While about nineteen percent of American adults experience mental illness every year, a 2015 assessment by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development finds that forty-five percent of the homeless population experience mental illness, and twenty-five percent are living with what is classified as serious mental illness. And because the homeless have less access to health and mental health resources, finding support can be incredibly challenging.

Mayor DeBlasio’s announcement of the review came just one day after Mental Health Awareness Day on October 10th, and serves as an important reminder of how crucial it is to value the accessibility of mental health services and the ways we can support the homeless members of our community.

A Beacon of Hope

Beacon of Hope, a division of Catholic Charities, offers a variety of housing services for people living with mental illness.

Serious mental illness can make living alone or with others unsustainable, causing many who go untreated to live on the streets. In fact, mental illness is the third largest contributor to homelessness in the United States.

The housing alternatives offered by Beacon of Hope include both group-living arrangements and individual apartments. The 24-hour supervised community residences enable case managers to help residents along their journey, while the apartments offer residents more independence.

This continuum of housing options enables individuals to not only get the help they need, but also re-enter the community at large. In addition to helping residents navigate both daily tasks and unexpected crises, Beacon of Hope also supports reintegration into the community through addiction recovery support and employment-seeking opportunities. Beacon of Hope is dedicated to treating all residents with respect and dignity.

For more information on Beacon of Hope, please visit their Catholic Charities Community Services page.

Keys: Beacon of Hope, sheltering the homeless, resolving crises, mental health awareness