Codey SOS - Housing for the Mentally Ill
The problems of mental illness are difficult and expensive. They're not the type of issues we champion at our fundraisers or in our campaign brochures. But how we handle the challenges of mental illness ... will speak volumes about how we handle ourselves as human beings.
One in every five New Jersey residents will suffer from a mental illness in their lifetime. There are some who have said that mental health is my personal agenda. Let me make it clear. I couldn't be prouder of the dignity and courage my wife has shown through her struggles and her advocacy. But this isn't my agenda -- it's everyone's agenda. And if it's not ... it should be!
Individuals with mental illness are our brothers and our sisters ... our mothers and our fathers. They are our sons and daughters ... our neighbors and colleagues. And, yes, our husbands and our wives. And they all deserve better.
To begin with, their basic need for decent housing is not being met. There are 8,000 chronically homeless people in New Jersey, the vast majority of whom suffer from mental illness. 50% of adults with severe mental illness live at home with their aging parents. And the wait for housing for an individual in the state system can be five years!
The housing shortage destroys their quality of life. It puts unnecessary and extraordinary costs on the citizens of this State. And it makes their recovery from mental illness even harder.
Meeting this crisis has been a top priority of the Governor's Task Force on Mental Health. And so today, I am proposing a $200 million dollar housing trust fund for individuals with mental illness and other disabilities.
This will help create 10,000 affordable places to live over the next 10 years. It will bring decency to the lives of individuals with mental illness. It will bring relief to their families who have cared for them. And it will let New Jersey ... begin to do better.
These are only two initial recommendations from the Mental Health Task Force, and I look forward to their full report in March.
Codey's entire State of the State address here.