Assemblyman Santabarbara: New Legislation Passed to Help Enhance Services for Elderly Residents in Mental Health Housing

Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara announced that legislation he co-sponsored to improve services for elderly residents of mental health housing programs has passed in the state Assembly (A.5119). This bill would improve services by creating a task force on aging in place for those living in mental health housing facilities.

“Elderly residents of mental health housing programs deserve access to high-quality care that aligns with their progressing needs,” said Santabarbara. “More than 40,000 New Yorkers with severe mental illness reside in community-based mental health housing. The model used at these facilities was created over 40 years ago and does not represent the needs of today’s population. That’s why I cosponsored this bill and pushed for its passage this session. It will help provide more efficient and effective care for one of the most vulnerable communities in our state.”

Residents in today’s mental health housing are different from those who occupied these facilities when they were initially established. These residents face unique challenges, such as taking a dozen or more medications daily, and are often dealing with co-occurring medical conditions. Mental health housing residents are also living longer compared to decades ago, with more than 40% of them being 55 years or older. Mental health housing residents are treated for 166 different medical conditions, with the most common being diabetes, hypertension, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), dementia, cancer and mobility issues.

“Unfortunately, many housing facilities lack the necessary resources to provide medical care for residents, along with most nursing homes not accepting those with severe mental illnesses,” said Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara. “This legislation will help address the obstacles in mental health housing programs, and help facilities meet the increasingly complex care needs of residents.”