(CN) – New York State violated the federal Americans with Disabilities Act by stacking mentally ill patients in restrictive, privately run homes instead of scattering them throughout various facilities in New York City, a federal judge in Brooklyn ruled.
Disability Advocates Inc., an advocacy group for the disabled, sued Gov. David Paterson and the New York State Department of Health in June 2003, claiming that about 4,300 individuals with mental illnesses were not given least-restrictive services in the “most integrated setting appropriate” as required by federal law.
The ADA and New York State law require the state to develop a system for the mentally ill that integrates them into rehabilitative services.
But instead of scattering the mentally ill patients at various homes throughout New York City, the state instead packed 28 adult homes in the area with mentally ill patients.
“The adult homes at issue are institutions that segregate residents from the community and impede residents’ interactions with people who do not have disabilities,” U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis wrote.
“Defendants have denied thousands of individuals with mental illness in New York City the opportunity to receive services in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs,” he wrote.