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Important Civil Rights Ruling for Mentally Disabled

A very important decision was handing down this week in Brooklyn Federal Court concerning New York State's policy of housing mentally ill adults in large adult homes.

The Federal Court in Disability Advocates Inc. v. New York State 03 CV 3209, ruled that New York State violated the Americans With Disabilities Act by failing to place mentally ill individuals in the "most integrated setting"-meaning a setting that enables these individuals to interact with non-disabled persons to the full extent possible. The decision authored by US District Judge, Nicholas G. Garaufis is 210 pages with 914 footnotes.  It provides and excellent lesson in disability rights and the Americans With Disability Act.

In housing disabled individuals in adult homes, the State of New York was effectively warehousing these individuals who prior to this placement were in hospitals.  The State in then transferring them to adult homes has unnecessarily segregated them from society as a whole and has isolated them. Most of these individuals, the Court found were capable of living in supported housing within the community and receiving flexible support services.

The decision has important implications for the brain injury community who also are victims of discrimination in services which often times need to be provided in nursing homes or adult care rehabilitation facilities, but instead can be provided at home with community based supports.  That is the purpose of the New York State Traumatic Brain Injury Medicaid Waiver program. 

Much credited needs to go to Disability Advocates Inc. (DAI) for their hard work and efforts in achieving this important victory for the disabled.

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