Mentally ill woman dies after transfer to unlicensed Las Vegas group home

James Madison in his room in his Las Vegas home Feb. 19, 2018. Madison was placed in the unlicensed group home for people with mental illness by Eileen Lee. K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal @KMCannonPhoto James Madison smokes a cigarette butt outside in his Las Vegas home Feb. 19, 2018. Madison was placed in the unlicensed group home for people with mental illness by Eileen Lee. K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal @KMCannonPhoto An "independent living home" at 1077 Westminster Ave. shown Feb. 12, 2018, where Rayshauna Roy was found dead in her room. She had just been released from North Vista Hospital after a Legal 2000 hold, which is issued when someone is considered a danger to themselves or others. K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal @KMCannonPhoto Linda Theubet, a recovering alcoholic who had depression and anxiety attacks, left, and Treva Lee talk to a reporter in Feb. 19, 2018, in Theubet's room at the Las Vegas "independent living" home. Rayshauna Roy was found dead in her room by Lee. Roy had just been released from North Vista Hospital after a Legal 2000 hold, which is issued when someone is considered a danger to themselves or others. K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal @KMCannonPhoto Treva Lee, left, and Jersharo Amey talk to a reporter Feb. 19, 2018, at a Las Vegas "independent living" home where they live. They found Rayshauna Roy dead in her room. She had just been released from North Vista Hospital after a Legal 2000 hold, which is issued when someone is considered a danger to themselves or others. K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal @KMCannonPhoto Linda Theubet, a recovering alcoholic who had depression and anxiety attacks, left, and Treva Lee talk to a reporter in Feb. 19, 2018, in Theubet's room at the Las Vegas "independent living" home. Rayshauna Roy was found dead in her room by Lee. Roy had just been released from North Vista Hospital after a Legal 2000 hold, which is issued when someone is considered a danger to Continue Reading

Alone and at risk in Minnesota’s group homes

‘I BECAME LOST’Ashley Daly, who has bipolar disorder and is cognitively impaired, has attempted suicide seven times since she moved hours away from her grandparents. Late one night this summer, George Daly woke abruptly to the sound of the fax machine humming from the den of his tidy home near Minneapolis. It brought tragic news: Just hours earlier, on a desolate stretch of highway in northern Minnesota, Daly’s granddaughter, Ashley, had slashed her wrist with a piece of glass and thrown herself in front of a speeding car. It was the seventh suicide attempt since Ashley, who has bipolar disorder and a cognitive impairment, was sent to live in a group home three hours away, on the wooded outskirts of Hermantown, Minn. “Ashley feels lost and abandoned,” said Daly, who settled on the facility only after several others closer to the Twin Cities turned them down. “She has no place to call home in this world and this is her way of crying out for help.” Each year, hundreds of Minnesotans with developmental disabilities and mental illnesses are uprooted from their families and sent to live in secluded group homes in remote parts of the state. Cut off from the communities they know, housed with strangers, they often fall deeper into anger and despair. Many, like Ashley, see violence and self-injury as their only means of escape. Minnesota’s far-flung network of group homes is another sign of how it has fallen behind other states in the movement to integrate people with disabilities into mainstream life. Though designed as safe havens for people too vulnerable to care for themselves, group homes now leave thousands of adults isolated and vulnerable to neglect and abuse. A Star Tribune review of hundreds of public documents has found: • Minnesota relies more than any other state on group homes to house adults with disabilities, spending $1 billion annually for about 19,000 people in more than 4,500 facilities. • Continue Reading

Easter Seals offers safety for mentally ill in Tinton Falls group home

Sitting at the dining table of a cozy Tinton Falls townhouse, Dwayne Patterson took out his pillbox and laid out his tablets: one to curb his alcohol cravings, one for the voices in his head and others assorted by color and size."I haven't heard no voices in about 18 months, and it helps really well," said Patterson, 57, an Easter Seals resident who has schizophrenia and is recovering from drug addiction. "I take my medication twice a day. They let me pack (the pillbox) for a week at a time."Patterson is one of around 3,500 people in New Jersey with mental illnesses taking refuge in programs like Easter Seals, according to the state Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services. He's in one of 17 group homes operated by Easter Seals in Monmouth County.Some programs, such as Patterson's, offer group housing and monitor residents for four or 12 hours at a time. Thousands have spent months undergoing mental health treatment and learning daily skills such as taking their medication, cleaning up after themselves and cooking as they transition to living alone."Most of our consumers are coming out of psychiatric hospitals. Whether they're living in their own apartment or living in a regular group home, it (the program) is to make them feel that they are part of that society," said Kelly Bowles, director of residential services for Easter Seals. "It's about giving them as normal a life as possible, assisting them in becoming independent. That's our goal."The state has "supportive housing" contracts with 43 agencies, including group home operators such as Easter Seals. Such facilities have drawn the ire of neighbors in years past as neighbors complain that they don't want adults with mental illnesses or other issues in their communities, assuming it would lead to spikes in crime. Advocates argue they offer at-risk residents a chance to rebuild their lives through cost-efficient program. Without these programs, they could end up without access to Continue Reading

Queens group home staffer led cops to four suspects in born-again Christian’s sex assault

They ran their mouths until the cops caught up. A tip from a staffer at a Queens group home steered police to four residents suspected of robbing and sexually assaulting a born-again Christian as she departed a church service. The employee heard the young men talking about the vile attack, leading her to believe they were either involved or had information about the Tuesday night attack, according to a source. Three of the four suspects were busted after police were told about the chatty criminals, while a fourth man remained a fugitive Friday in the attack on a woman headed home from the Celestial Church of Christ. “The crimes that the defendants are accused of committing that night are despicable,” said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. “Not content to simply rob her at gunpoint, two of them are alleged to have subjected her to heinous acts of sexual abuse.” Suspects Brandon Walker, 20, Julisses Ginel, 19, and Justin Williams, 17, were arrested Thursday after the 50-year-old churchgoer was forced to perform oral sex on two of the men behind a parked garbage truck on Liberty Ave. in Jamaica, cops said. Williams and Ginel kept talking in custody, confessing to NYPD detectives in detail, officials said. Ginel told cops he went “to get condoms to help out my boys” as they forced the woman into the sex act. Williams and Ginel were additionally charged in an armed robbery of three men on a Queens street one night later. The SCO Family of Services, operator of the home, issued a statement confirming the role of its worker in the arrests. “One of the employees at a Transitional Independent Living program for young adults discovered that temporary residents served through the program might be linked to the attack reported in the media,” said an SCO spokesman. “Our staff took action and alerted the authorities, which Continue Reading

Home sweet home: Developmentally disabled residents displaced by Superstorm Sandy return to Red Hook

They’re finally home. Developmentally disabled residents driven out of their Red Hook group home by Superstorm Sandy have made their longed-for return. Their recent homecoming follows extensive repairs to the flood-damaged Visitation Residence after anxious months spent in temporary quarters in Fort Greene. “There’s a real joy to be back again,” said Ferrica Gresham, a caretaker at the Richards St. home where five of the 10 residents had lived since its 1978 opening. “You can see the change in everybody now that we’re here, in their attitudes. Everybody sleeps better.” During their exile from Red Hook they bunked down three to a room in refurnished administrative offices at the headquarters of Visitation’s nonprofit operator, Mercy Home, as the Daily News recounted in a previous story. At the spacious Richards St. building — once a convent for nuns who taught at nearby Visitation Church’s now-closed grade school — each resident has a separate bedroom. “I love it,” said Renee, one of the original residents. “Sandy made me leave. But now I’m home.” Renee, who’s legally blind, needed assistance to find her way around the residents’ Fort Greene refuge. “Being home has restored her sense of independence,” said caretaker Cynthia Mack. Now that they’re back home, the residents have settled in to their routines of attending educational programs and spending time in the neighborhood, making trips to favorite shops and nearby Coffey Park. Kyle, who has also lived in the Red Hook home since 1978, is playing basketball again in the park. “I was sad,” he said. “Visitation makes me happy.” They’ve returned to taking their favorite outings with staffers to the McDonald’s at the edge of the neighborhood and Cobble Hill Continue Reading

Lawsuit challenges rule that bars mentally disabled married couples from sharing group home bedroom

PORT JEFFERSON, N.Y. — With the beaming smiles of newlyweds, Paul Forziano and Hava Samuels hold hands, exchange adoring glances and complete each other’s sentences. Their first wedding dance, he recalls, was to the song “Unchained ...” “Melody,” she chimes in. They spend their days together in the performing arts education center where they met. But every night, they must part ways. Forziano goes to his group home. His wife goes to hers. The mentally disabled couple is not allowed to share a bedroom by the state-sanctioned nonprofits that run the group homes — a practice the newlyweds and their parents are now challenging in a federal civil rights lawsuit. “We’re very sad when we leave each other,” Forziano says. “I want to live with my wife, because I love her.” The couple had been considering marriage for three years before tying the knot last month, and they contend in their lawsuit that they were refused permission from their respective group homes to live together as husband and wife. The couple’s parents, also plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said they have been seeking a solution since 2010. “It’s not something we wanted to do, it’s something we had to do,” said Bonnie Samuels, the mother of the bride. The lawsuit contends Forziano’s facility refused because people requiring the services of a group home are by definition incapable of living as married people, and it says Samuels’ home refused because it believes she doesn’t have the mental capacity to consent to sex. Legal experts are watching the case closely as a test of the Americans With Disabilities Act, which says, in part, that “a public entity shall make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures ... to avoid discrimination on the basis of disability.” The group homes are licensed as nonprofits by the state and receive Medicaid funding Continue Reading

Those with disabilities: Where should they live?

A civil rights battle has been simmering not far below the surface of local and national discussions on how and where people with intellectual and developmental disabilities – people with Down syndrome or autism, for example – might live and work in the future.One key part of the debate centers on whether government funds should be spent on congregate housing arrangements – group homes, villages, neighborhoods, where people with such disabilities are the primary residents.Some see that as a sequestered environment, exactly the kind of thing the nation is trying to leave behind as it promotes community-based life for all. Others see such options as a welcome, sustainable alternative for those who may need support but still want a place of their own.The debate emerged here Friday during a daylong conference organized by the Homes For Life Foundation, which has donated 27 homes to Delaware residents with such disabilities. The conference was meant to showcase innovative housing ideas taking root around the nation – such as The Arc Village in Jacksonville, Florida, where ground will be broken next week on an $18.6 million, 97-unit community of affordable duplexes and triplexes to be rented by those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.But an undercurrent of discussion focused on whether the U.S. Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services would approve funds for home- and community-based services to support such a project.The centers earlier this year released new rules on the kinds of settings it will support with federal funds, steering everything toward independence, choice, and community integration. Anything that looks or functions like an institution will have to prove it's no such thing to be eligible for future home- and community-based funding.The new rules reflect the mandates of the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) and the subsequent 1999 U.S. Supreme Court ruling known as Olmstead, which said people with disabilities Continue Reading

Judged crazy: Overturn court order to move mentally ill from adult homes

A Brooklyn judge has ordered the state to move thousands of mentally ill adults into apartments and group homes without having the foggiest idea whether these troubled souls are up to living on their own. Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis has come as close as anyone can get to condemning a potentially large number of people to camping out in doorways and on subway grates and trains - just as so many used to do. His ruling must be overturned. New York houses 4,300 people with psychiatric difficulties in so-called adult homes in the city. These are hotel-like facilities that are neither the most hospitable of places nor dumping grounds. A group called Disability Advocates challenged the living arrangement on the ground that federal law requires the state to place the disabled in the least restrictive settings possible. Generally, that means providing apartments and support services. State officials proposed proceeding with caution. They called for relocating 200 residents a year over five years while evaluating each one's ability to live independently, as well as whether they wanted to move. That was not good enough for Garaufis. He embraced the advocates' backward claim that all 4,300 patients should be assumed capable of going it alone unless proven otherwise. In fact, he allowed only three reasons for holding someone in an adult home: dementia, a need for a high level of skilled nursing or the likelihood that patients would pose an imminent threat to themselves or others. The possibility that someone would take up residence in Penn Station would not be disqualifying. Equally nuts, the state doesn't have anything remotely like 4,300 supported housing units, or the money to create them. Whatever the merits of Garaufis' reading of federal law regarding the rights of the disabled, his remedy is an off-the-charts example of judicial muscling without regard to consequences. He has endowed the mentally ill with an inalienable right to wander the streets Continue Reading

Gov. Sarah Palin comes to Westchester, Long Island to support the needs of those with autism

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is using her public profile to draw attention to the needs of those with autism and other developmental disabilities in the New York metropolitan area.The former Republican vice presidential candidate is scheduled to join a fundraising walk for the group Autism Speaks in Westchester County on Sunday.Then she is to be honored on Long Island later in the day at an anniversary celebration for Independent Group Home Living Inc.Palin's youngest son, Trig, has Down syndrome.More than 20,000 people turned out to see Palin on Saturday in upstate Auburn, where she helped officials celebrate Founder's Day and raise money for a museum honoring William Seward. He was the secretary of state who acquired Alaska for the United States. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Sarah Palin hits New York City, joins Rudy Giuliani for Yankees game

They hopes to win the keys to the White House. Instead, they got tickets to Yankee Stadium. Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, whose presidential aspirations collapsed in humiliating defeat in Florida last year, and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the failed GOP veep pick, enjoyed a game at Yankee Stadium on Sunday. The GOP political duo and their spouses exchanged laughs, smiles and small talk as they watched the Yanks take on Tampa Bay. At one point, Giuliani snapped a photo of his wife, Judith, with Alaska's First Couple. Giuliani invited the Palins to the game when he learned they would be in town this weekend. On Saturday, Palin was in upstate Auburn, marching in a parade to raise money for a museum honoring William Seward, the former secretary of state who bought Alaska from Russia. Sunday night on Long Island, the self-described pit bull with lipstick received an award from Independent Group Home Living Foundation, a nonprofit that supports people with disabilities. Palin's youngest son, Trig, has Down syndrome. While her trip here was billed as nonpolitical, she found time at an event on Saturday to criticize President Obama's national security and energy policies, as well as his handling of the nation's economic crisis. But Sunday's meeting at the ballpark was purely casual, a source told the Daily News. Giuliani, who is eying a bid for governor in New York, and Palin, who may run for the White House in 2012, were just enjoying the game, the source said. The Palins left sometime in the sixth inning for the awards dinner. "We brought her here because of her advocacy and her stance as a parent," said Walter Stockton, head of the group that honored Palin. "Whether she was a Republican or Democrat really didn't matter to us." Join the Conversation: Continue Reading