Critics rally against New York City's new directive to involuntarily hospitalize mentally ill

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Wednesday, December 7, 2022
Critics rally against NYC's new directive to hospitalize mentally ill
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Activists slammed Mayor Eric Adams' recent plan to help those with severe mental illness by hospitalizing them involuntarily. Lauren Glassberg has the story.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Activists slammed Mayor Eric Adams' recent plan to help those with severe mental illness.

On Wednesday morning, a rally was held on the steps of City Hall calling for an end to the directive that forces emergency workers to bring homeless people to hospitals if they can't care for themselves.

Critics say forcing people to seek services and into shelters is the wrong approach. They are pushing for more investment in education, housing and mental health.

"We live in a city where the administration thinks it is easy for the police, they can just arrest homeless people and throw them into hospitals and jails," said City Council member Chi Ossé.

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams says the mayor has put too much funding and focus on enforcement.

"They're the ones that get all the funding then we're going to ask them to do too much, they're going to do things they are not equipped to do, they are going to provide services that they are not trained to do," Williams said.

Adams defended the plan and said it will not be police-driven despite officers being a key part of it.

He said it will allow the city to provide care to as many people as possible and will require additional training for police and first responders.

Adams said outreach workers and clinical response teams would help to determine who is at risk and should be off the street.

"If you cannot take care of your basic needs and you are a danger to yourself- that is the small group that we are talking about," Adams said on the radio. "You will be taken to the hospital where a mental health professional would make the determination on what the next steps."

However, Williams doubts whether the hospitals could even accommodate additional patients.

"We actually don't have the beds we need to provide that," Williams said.

Despite the pushback, Adams said the plan will operate within the boundaries of the law and it will take time to fix a New York City problem that has become hard not to notice.

RELATED | NYC to hospitalize more mentally ill people involuntarily as part of new initiative

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