New Initiatives Announced at White House Conference to Provide Safe, Secure Hou

H. C. Covington -- I CAN America (icanamerica@email.msn.com)
Wed, 9 Jun 1999 05:35:30 -0500


New Initiatives Announced at White House Conference to Provide Safe, Secure
Housing for Americans with Mental IllnessSource:
Secretary Andrew Cuomo @ HUD
June 7, 1999



NEW INITIATIVES ANNOUNCED AT WHITE HOUSE CONFERENCE TO PROVIDE SAFE, SECURE
HOUSING FOR AMERICANS WITH MENTAL ILLNESS

WASHINGTON - At the first ever White House Conference on Mental Health, the
Clinton-Gore Administration today announced two new initiatives to increase
housing opportunities for Americans with mental illness.

Tipper Gore, the President's Mental Health Policy Advisor and a well-known
advocate for people with mental illness, chaired the White House Conference on
Mental Health, where the initiatives were discussed today.

One initiative will help create more Safe Havens where homeless people with
mental illness can stay and get food, clothing and showers. An estimated 25 to
33 percent of the roughly 600,000 Americans who are homeless on any given night
suffer from severe mental illness.

The second initiative is a series of three televised awareness and training
sessions led by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo, designed
to help staff from HUD and groups that get HUD funding to fight housing
discrimination against people with mental illness.

"A safe, secure, and healthy home is important to the well-being of everyone in
our nation," Cuomo said. "These initiatives will open our eyes to housing
discrimination against people with mental illness and open the door to equal
rights in housing for these Americans."

The Clinton-Gore Administration's Fiscal Year 2000 budget proposes increased
spending on HUD programs to help Americans with mental illness, including:
100,000 new housing vouchers to provide safe, decent housing for people in need;
expansion of tenant-based voucher allocations through the Section 811 program to
give people with disabilities a broader choice in where they live; $7 million
more for the Office of Fair Housing (to $47 million) to better respond to cases
of housing discrimination, including those involving mental health disabilities;
and an increase from $975 million to $1.02 billion for Continuum of Care
homeless assistance, which provides housing and services to homeless people,
including many with mental illness.
Here are details on each initiative announced today:

SAFE HAVENS

HUD, together with the Department of Health and Human Services, will provide
in-depth training for non-profit organizations, local government officials and
other interested members of the community on how to develop and operate more
Safe Havens.
Safe Havens serve as refuges for homeless people with severe mental illness who
have been unable to access or participate in traditional housing or supportive
services. The Safe Havens provide for basic needs such as food, showers,
clothing, and shelter. They will give homeless people a chance to adjust to life
off the streets and to transition to permanent housing. Started by HUD in 1994,
there are now 104 Safe Havens.


A new guidebook put together by HUD and HHS called In From the Cold: A Tool Kit
for Creating Safe Havens for Homeless People on the Street will serve as the
textbook for the training. The guidebook, unveiled for the first time at the
conference, contains valuable advice and specific ideas on creating and
operating Safe Havens to assist homeless people who are mentally ill.

AWARENESS AND TRAINING SEMINARS

HUD will conduct a series of three televised national awareness and training
sessions led by Cuomo to reduce the stigma and discrimination in housing against
people with mental illness. The sessions will be broadcast via satellite to
HUD's 81 offices around the country for HUD employees, employees of thousands of
organizations that receive HUD funding, and others.
Often, people with mental illness are denied housing outright by landlords and
because of their disability are harassed by neighbors so much that they decide
to move. In Fiscal Year 1998, 565 complaints alleging discrimination based on
mental disability were filed with HUD and its state and local government
partners. An unknown number of complaints are also filed with private fair
housing groups, which are not required to report their statistics to HUD.

The first session will explore how people with mental illness experience
discrimination in housing. The remaining two sessions will teach participants
how the Fair Housing Act and other civil rights laws can help end that
discrimination.
HUD will link the themes of its two broadcasts so that those being trained about
Safe Havens will also become more aware of the needs of people with mental
illness and receive information on Fair Housing and other discrimination issues.


OTHER INITIATIVES
In addition, HUD has a number of other initiatives designed to help people with
mental illness remain in their homes.
Among the most prominent is the Continuum of Care program, which uses a
comprehensive approach to provide emergency, transitional and permanent housing
and services to help homeless people become self sufficient. Since it was
launched by the Clinton-Gore Administration in 1994, the Continuum of Care has
more than doubled the funding devoted each year toward solving homelessness to
approximately $900 million annually. Homelessness assistance, much of which
helps those with mental illness, is a significant portion of the over $1.1
billion HUD spends to meet the housing needs of people with special needs in its
proposed budget for the next fiscal year.

HUD also operates additional housing programs to help people with mental illness
and disabilities, including: Section 8 Rental Assistance for People with
Disabilities, which has $88.5 million in available funds for about 10,000
Section 8 housing vouchers; the Mainstream Program, which is a $48.5 million,
five-year program to allocate 1,600 vouchers for people with disabilities; the
Designated Public Housing program, which is a $20 million, one-year program to
meet the housing needs of people with disabilities; and Rental Assistance for
Applicants to Private Assisted Housing, which is a $20 million program for 4,200
vouchers to provide rental housing to people with disabilities who do not
receive assistance because owners of private, assisted Section 202, 221(d)(3),
and 236 housing establish selection preferences for elders.

Another program overseen by HUD to assist mentally ill and disabled people is
Service Coordinators in Multi-Family Housing, which will allocate $5 million to
allow multi-family housing owners to provide elderly and disabled residents with
support services allowing them to live independently in their own apartments.

HUD has also funded the construction of housing in 544 developments under the
Section 811 program to help people with chronic mental illness live in community
settings.