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Friday, February 18, 2022

Governor Hochul Announces Major Investments to Improve Psychiatric Support for Those in Crisis

Governor Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams hold press conference to announce plans for subway safety and homeless outreach

Governor Kathy Hochul today, at an event with New York City Mayor Eric Adams, announced major investments to help improve access to acute mental health care and hospital psychiatric beds across New York State. The initiatives are part of a plan to provide the necessary support and services for people with serious mental illness experiencing homelessness, as well as others in crisis. The investments include $27.5 million annually to increase funding for inpatient psychiatric beds; $9 million annually to recruit psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners; and $12.5 million annually for 500 additional supportive housing beds to house people experiencing homelessness in their communities.

"For too long our mental healthcare system suffered from disinvestment, and the pandemic has only made things harder for New Yorkers with serious mental illness who are experiencing homelessness," Governor Hochul said. "I am proud to stand with Mayor Adams and share our efforts to boost mental health treatment services for those who lack stable housing, and bring more psychiatric beds online. We must work together to keep our subways — the lifeblood of New York City — safe for all riders, and to get help and services to those in need."

One cause of the shortage of psychiatric beds in New York City and across the state is lower Medicaid reimbursement for inpatient psychiatric care compared to medical/surgical beds. The $27.5 million investment would increase the current Medicaid for psychiatric beds by 20% and would help bring beds back online for psychiatric use, including more than 600 in New York City.  

A second challenge with reestablishing psychiatric beds is the nation-wide shortage of psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners. Governor Hochul is committing $9 million annually to establish a loan forgiveness program to recruit these mental health practitioners into the community-based mental health workforce.  

The investment of $12.5 million annually for 500 additional supportive housing beds will help to more quickly transition those in crisis from the streets, subways and shelters to stable housing. These units will give the State the additional resources it will need as the Governor's Safe Options Support teams come online in the Spring. These additional units will complement the 10,000 units of supportive housing announced in the Governor's $25 billion housing plan.  

These investments will build on the Governor's $10 billion plan to improve the health care system and proposed budget, which includes a historic $577 million (17.2%) increase for critically important community mental health programs and services. These budget initiatives include:   

  • $21 million investment to develop 20 new SOS teams comprised of mental health specialists to conduct direct one-on-one outreach with New Yorkers experiencing homelessness  
  • $25 billion housing plan with a commitment to create and preserve 10,000 units of supportive housing over the next five years to prevent homelessness  
  • workforce investments through a historic 5.4% Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for community mental health providers and retention bonuses up to $3,000  
  • $35 million investment for FY 2023 that grows to $60 million in FY 2024 to prepare New York for the nationwide launch of 9-8-8, the suicide prevention and behavioral health crisis hotline system, by providing for the expansion of call center capacity.  

New York City Mayor Eric Adams said, "We cannot turn a blind eye when our fellow New Yorkers are in crisis. We cannot continue to accept a system that forces our residents to seek shelter in our subways, left without any other place to turn. It will not continue in New York City. I'm grateful to Governor Hochul for her partnership as we lead with compassion, empathy, and support together. These investments in mental health will go towards those who need it most and help bring our unhoused New Yorkers home."


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