The forced hospitalization of the homeless in New York criticized from all sides

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Forced hospitalization of homeless people in New York criticized from all sides

< p class="sc-v64krj-0 dlqbmr">Since November, the police have had the power to hospitalize homeless people in mental distress.

Since last November, New York City police officers have had the power to forcibly hospitalize homeless people in mental distress on the streets. A plan that is unanimous, but against him.

As the freezing cold hit the megalopolis, a handful of homeless people try to warm up in the heart of Times Square thanks to a small trailer where they offer a little tea and coffee. Located next to the department stores with the most scintillating signs, this little oasis of simplicity contrasts in the decor riddled with giant screens where garishly colored advertisements scroll by.

Among those comforted today was Angel, a US Army veteran who has lived on the streets for 10 years with mental health issues.

In the middle of Times Square, a small shop serving coffee to the homeless.

His point is not always clear, but when asked what he thinks of New York Mayor Eric Adams' plan to hospitalize homeless people like him without their consent who would be in mental health crisis, it ignites.

We have rights in this country, we can go where we want. We need more support in the streets, more people to talk to us in the streets. This mental support is necessary to keep us busy here, he said, pointing to the top of his head.

There are many like Angel who denounce this measure which now gives full latitude to police to arrest homeless people in crisis and forcefully hospitalize them.

The goal, according to the mayor of America's largest city with nearly 9 million citizens, is to focus on this small group of homeless people, give them the care they need and not wait until x27;they are doing something dangerous to themselves or others.

A few blocks from Times Square, in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood, Fountain House, a non-profit organization welcomes hundreds of homeless people with mental health problems every year. The place looks like a leisure club for wealthy members.

Melanie Forman is among those who criticize New York City's police and medicated approach to homeless people in mental health crisis.

In the multi-storey building, there is a large community kitchen as well as large lounges, libraries, large offices and meeting rooms. We are very far from the image of these dilapidated reception centers with minimal services. Here, the homeless who use the facilities are not patients, but full members of this vast club.

Melanie Forman, specialist in the programs offered in this organization, justifies this more human approach. We focus on the social design of the premises so that it is not a place where people feel institutionalized, but is their community, what they want to see. It is focused on a way of social rehabilitation.

This is precisely what drew Saverio to Fountain House. At first I didn't want to come and then I started frequenting this place and that's when I realized it was a cool place. Now I enjoy working here and meeting other people like me. Today, like many others, he works and earns a salary that allows him to be part of this club like no other.

Saverio, a homeless man struggling with mental health problems, participates in the social life within the organization which favors reintegration.

When she learned what the mayor of New York wanted to do about the homeless in mental health crisis, her blood boiled. Personally, I was very upset with the lack of consideration and consultation from social workers, mental health service providers and hospitals.

“It felt a bit irresponsible to me, like they started this initiative to possibly hide people who are homeless and have mental health issues.”

—Melanie Forman, social worker at Fountain House

Sandy Brower is one of those referred to here as Fountain House members. In the past, she has been plagued by situations of mental distress. When she was having suicidal thoughts, she called the 988 helpline, who then sent her to the police. But that's not what she needed.

The idea that she could face forced hospitalization, as advocated by the mayor of New York, frightens her. He's a hypocrite because now he wants to lock people up and he thinks they're going to be overmedicated next. It may not be good for them. I was in this situation and it was terrible, I had hallucinations.

Sandy Brower sharply criticizes the initiative of the mayor of New York to give the police the power to arrest and commit homeless people in mental distress to hospitals.

Faced with this barrage of criticism, Eric Adams defended himself recently on the airwaves of the Fox network.

First of all, this is not a police led plan and I think some of the distortion in the media is really unfair to New Yorkers. This is a specific small group of people who cannot take care of their basic needs and who are mentally struggling with mental illnesses to the point of being in danger to themselves and for others.

Nothing to stop the disapproval from community stakeholders like Harvey Rosenthal, executive director of the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services.

The mayor of New York complains that we do not understand his intentions. Yet there are so many better ideas out there to follow, like more social housing or crisis stabilization units with peer support. The mayor's approach goes against all that. It focuses on the hospital, and if people need food, shelter, and clothing, it's definitely not the best place to get that.

Melanie Forman dares not imagine finding herself in the situation of these homeless people who are caught by the police and are committed to hospital. It makes sense that they feel angry and want to lash out. I think when you treat someone more gently and from a crisis de-escalation perspective, then you will be able to find common ground and get support for this person.

New York Mayor Eric Adams is facing a barrage of criticism over his approach to mentally distressed homeless people.

In the opinion of the community and the homeless who use their services, organizations like Fountain House therefore remain effective solutions, particularly for social reintegration, but for the moment, funding from local authorities is not forthcoming. you, as Harvey Rosenthal explains.

We can't fill 30-40% of positions right now. So yes, we need money just to operate and to ensure that qualified personnel get into these jobs. In other words, we need to stabilize existing programs by funding them properly, but it is equally important to develop more of them.

So far, a legal challenge has been filed in court by homeless organizations. So far, a judge has not wanted to suspend the application of the New York Mayor's plan, but nothing prevents him from doing so later, the time to document the results of this new measure.

< p class="e-p">As he finishes his coffee in freezing Times Square, Angel has a little advice for his city.

Everything the city needs to do , is to give more love, more than discipline. I mean, yes, you need your discipline, but you also need to show discipline for love. My mother used to say, you know, who loves good chastening and you're gonna like it.

Eternal optimist, he hopes that his voice, however small, will be heard.