Happy Endings

April 20, 2010

In New York, there is a happily ever after for some patients with mental illness.

In New York, there is a happily ever after for some patients with mental illness. Thanks to the efforts of Marjorie Vezer, the executive director of South Shore Association for Independent Living--a nonprofit agency--some 30,000 New Yorkers with mental illness-many with schizophrenia-are living independently in quality, state-financed housing, and saving tax payers money in the process. It costs the state $250,000 for a year at a state hospital, and $14,500 for a year in a cheery apartment.
     When Vezer first started the agency in the 1980s, residents were in the 18 through 35 age range. Many of these individuals have stayed and are now “Graying in a Home, not an Institution.” Because most of the residents are now in their late 40s through 60s, the issues faced by the agency have changed as well. Whereas 25 years ago the problems were related to sexual promiscuity, substance abuse, and fighting, with the older residents, medical issues are more prevalent.