Friday, February 3, 2023

New York comptroller: Homeless people with mental health problems not placed in enough shelters

NEW YORK – The latest audit by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli has revealed that the New York City Department of Homeless Services (DHS) is not meeting the needs of homeless New Yorkers, particularly in mental health and substance abuse services. With intake issues.

The audit looked at DHS screening and placement of clients and found that screening was often insufficient to determine when they had a mental illness or substance abuse problem and placed people in a shelter that did not provide the support they needed. Could have done Although the audit did not establish a causal relationship between people’s shelter locations and outcomes, it found that proper location in a specialized facility can reduce risks to people inside and outside the shelter system.

“The Department of Social Services needs to do a better job helping some of the most vulnerable people in the city,” DiNapoli said. “My latest audit reveals that too often the Department has failed to adequately place homeless individuals with special needs in appropriate shelters where they can receive the assistance they need to recover and move toward stable housing. DHS deficiencies can have serious consequences. I hope that DHS uses the audit’s findings and recommendations to improve its operations.”

As part of the DHS intake process, clients are screened to help determine which of its five types of shelters best meets their needs: general, mental health, substance abuse. , Employment and Seniors. General shelters do not provide specialized staff or services, while other options provide specialized staff and services or facilities.

DiNapoli’s audit found problems with DHS’s complex evaluation process:

  • dependency dI Self-report of mental health and substance abuse problemsOnes: DHS does not use all available data, and customers’ self-reported responses do not always reveal true status. As a result, the judgment of social workers greatly influences the outcome of evaluations and screenings.
  • Lack of standardization in the evaluation process: The auditors found instances where clients were screened and placed in shelters that did not match information documented by social workers. There were also insufficient records documenting the rationale for placing clients in general shelters rather than specialized facilities.
  • Delay in appointing clients: Unofficial DHS policy states that clients must be placed within 21 days of being evaluated. Auditors found that in the autumn of 2021, 83 of 359 clients living in shelters assessed were waiting more than three weeks.

To try to understand the impact shelter placement has on client outcomes, the auditors analyzed background information on 17,244 homeless individuals listed in the DHS Client Demographics Report and examined current shelter operations. /program, length of stay at current facility, assessment screening score (e.g., mental health, substance abuse, alcohol abuse), and medical diagnosis. Of these, the auditors found 3,022 to have serious mental illnesses that should have qualified them for a mental health facility. However, 26% (795) were not placed in a mental health facility.

The report noted that in many cases, people with known mental health diagnoses who were placed in a general population shelter rather than a specialized shelter ended up causing injury or death to themselves or others.

The auditors also found that clients with known substance abuse problems were routinely placed in shelters that did not have specialized staff or services. Of the 1,061 clients identified as having alcohol or substance abuse problems, 90% (956 of 1,061) were not placed in a substance abuse shelter.

Space in senior shelters was also an issue. A large percentage of homeless seniors, 43%, were placed in general non-senior shelters. DHS officials have attributed this, in part, to the low number of beds in senior shelters. However, the auditors found that beds in senior shelters were not reserved for seniors: 103 of 368 beds (28%) were given to clients under the age of 65.

DiNapoli’s recommendations include that DHS:

  • Create and implement standard operating procedures to ensure that people are diagnosed, housed, and/or transferred to the most appropriate shelter.
  • Analyze client data to help identify clients who could potentially benefit from services that could be better provided in specialized shelters, thereby helping clients reduce the risk of harm to themselves and others meets.
  • Review current customer locations; Consider transferring clients to shelters that better meet their needs, as warranted.
  • Consider what action to take for patrons who may pose a danger to themselves or others and substantially interfere with the health, safety, welfare, care or comfort of other residents.

In their response, DHS officials generally disagreed with the report’s findings, attributing some negative impacts to precautions implemented during the pandemic and saying there is no causal link between shelter location and customer outcomes.

Full report here.

Nation World News Desk
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