And Now They Are Coming for the Unhoused: The Long Push to Expand Involuntary Treatment in America

This article by Leah Harris has been published by Mad in America. It begins:

“On November 29, New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced his administration’s 11-point legislative agenda, which seeks to enforce an expanded interpretation of the state’s existing mental hygiene laws governing forced treatment. In a speech unveiling the plan, Mayor Adams said: ‘A common misunderstanding persists that we cannot provide involuntary assistance unless the person is violent, suicidal, or presenting a risk of imminent harm. This myth must be put to rest.’

The administration’s agenda provides for the ‘involuntary removal‘ and hospitalization of persons who appear to be both ‘suffering from mental illness’ and ‘in danger due to inability to meet their basic needs.’ While affirming that the administration would try to get individuals to accept help voluntarily, Mayor Adams stated: ‘But we will not abandon them if those efforts cannot overcome the person’s unawareness of their own illness. In short, we are confirming that a person’s ‘inability to meet basic needs,’ to the extent that it poses a risk of harm, is part of the standard for mental health interventions.’

The announcement was immediately condemned by the disability community, homeless advocacy groups, and human rights organizations, and has resulted in a tsunami of coverage. But the voices of unhoused people have been less frequently heard in the public debate and reaction to the Adams administration proposal.

Lisa Ortega, formerly unhoused organizer with Take Back the Bronx, told Mad in America that involuntary removals of unhoused people were already happening in New York City. ‘A lot of people get put away involuntarily,” she said. “They get medicated immediately. And they can’t even fight back because they get medicated.’ …”

You can read more from here.

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