ALBANY — A day after presenting her $227 billion executive budget proposal, Gov. Hochul detailed her plans to invest in mental health care and expand outreach for homeless New Yorkers.
The governor’s $1 billion plan aims to expand access to mental health care, bolster supportive housing and outpatient services across the state as well as boost the number of outreach teams making contact with at-risk New Yorkers.
“This is an area that been overlooked underinvested in,” Hochul said during an event at Montefiore Medical Center’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx.
Hochul said a compassionate approach and investments in residential units for New Yorkers with mental illness and step-down housing units in the city to serve formerly homeless individuals transitioning from inpatient care could help the city tackle homelessness and keep the streets and subways safer.
“The mental health crisis has evolved into a public safety crisis,” she said. “And fear has been generated because some of them really can’t control their impulses. They need help. They need to be somewhere getting real help, not abandoned on our streets.”
The governor’s plan includes $890 million in capital and $120 million in operating funding to create and operate 3,500 new residential units for New Yorkers with mental illness.
Among the housing options covered by the funds would be 1,500 supportive housing units, which serve New Yorkers with a serious mental illness who have less acute needs but still require support.
Under Hochul’s proposal, the state would invest $60 million in capital and $121.6 million operating funding toward expanding outpatient services.
The money would be used to establish 12 new comprehensive psychiatric emergency programs to provide hospital-level crisis care and triple the number of Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics in the state, from 13 to 39. Such clinics offer offer walk-in mental health and substance use disorder services.
Additionally, the funds would be used to create 42 additional Assertive Community Treatment teams to provide mobile services to the most at-risk New Yorkers and eight additional Safe Options Support teams, which target areas where street homelessness is most widespread.
The teams, first announced last year by Hochul and Mayor Adams as a way to address homelessness in the subways, provide outreach and connection to services for homeless populations with mental illness and substance use disorders.
Hochul also wants to see hospitals increase the number of inpatient psychiatric beds after many facilities across the state reduced mental health care during the COVID pandemic.
The plan would be to compel state-licensed hospitals to reopen more than 800 inpatient psychiatric beds taken offline during the pandemic, including 450 in the five boroughs, despite the expiration of the state’s public health emergency in 2021.
A piece of legislation included in Hochul’s budget proposal would increase the state’s ability to fine hospitals that don’t comply with the order to $2,000 a day per violation.
“We can and we must, and we will do better,” Hochul said. “Our plan is to add 1,000 inpatient beds by funding 150 beds at state facilities and bring 850 psych beds back online in hospitals. That’s more than half the beds we lost since 2014, and we’ll serve over 10,000 New Yorkers annually.”