To the editor:
Re “Voiceless, Defenseless and a Source of Cash” (front page, April 30): For too long, the suffering of the mentally ill, some of whom are addicted to drugs, has been someone else’s problem. Deinstitutionalization was the right thing to do in the 1970’s, and still is today. What is unacceptable is the inconsistent provision of decent, well-managed community-based alternatives.
Models of effective community care do exist, however, and are financed by some of the same state agencies criticized in your investigation. What sets these programs apart from the “homes” you expose is their adherence to residential treatment regimens that empower residents to manage their illnesses, take ownership of their treatment and develop the tools – vocational, social and psychological – they need to lead independent lives.
President, Odyssey House
New York, May 1, 2002