Essential to Moving People Out of Institutions and into the Community
There is little argument there are thousands and thousands of people residing in institutions – nursing homes, mental health hospitals, etc. – that with appropriate housing and support services could live successfully integrated into the community. In fact, in 1999 the United States Supreme Court Olmstead v L.C. decision mandated that States develop plans and move people out of these institutions and into the most integrated, appropriate setting possible in the community.
For many years, some states made efforts to comply with Olmstead, but much more often than not, these efforts were inadequate to meet the mandate. More recently, the U.S. Department of Justice has dramatically increased its focus and emphasis on enforcing the law, and a number of states including Georgia, Delaware, Illinois, North Carolina and others now have settlements agreements in place to take the necessary action to comply with Olmstead. For these states, and for the many more that are seeking to avoid legal action, creating supportive housing opportunities in communities across their state is largely the answer.
Here at CSH, we are poised and increasingly focused on supporting states, advocates, and stakeholders in designing and implementing plans to create supportive housing opportunities in their communities to meet the needs of people inappropriately institutionalized – and comply with the law. As we have engaged with partners, it is clear that more direction and more ideas are needed to think about just what that path forward looks like, and how we can approach this pressing problem. To that end, CSH has released a discussion paper on Olmstead that aims to provide some thoughts for moving the conversation forward.
While the approaches states and communities take to address Olmstead will vary, CSH believes that real consumer/tenant choice should be paramount, and that these three guiding principles can help lead the conversation.
1. Providing people the opportunity to live independently in the most integrated setting.
2. Expanding access and the range of housing options.
3. Ensuring and promoting tenant choice.
In addition, the paper makes several other important points, including drawing clear distinction between what supportive housing is (and what it is not) and how it differs from group homes and other institutional settings. Additionally, it articulates a strong case for including a wide range of approaches to creating supportive housing opportunities – from scattered site to mixed tenancy to single site – to provide tenants with an array of choices and opportunities to live in the community.
As we move ahead, CSH looks forward to working with states, advocates, and community partners – as well as our partners at federal agencies to assist thousands of people making their way back into our communities.
We hope you will join the conversation – and the effort.