Friday, November 22, 2013

Community Housing For Mentally Ill Severely Lacking In Milwaukee

Just on Tuesday, Chris Abele - the Mitt Romney of Milwaukee County - was bragging about his vetoes of the amendments to the county budget which would have put some much needed safeguards for vulnerable citizens who have a mental illness. Abele claimed that the Board was intentionally slowing down his plan to close the mental health complex needlessly because there were resources galore in the community for these people.

As I have been doing for months, I pointed out once again that Abele was lying through his teeth.  There simply are not enough resources in the community to keep them safe.  I pointed out that both locally and nationally, there are not enough resources for the mentally ill and that this sad fact can lead to tragedies.

Lo and behold, I was proven correct.  Milwaukee County is short by more than 800 beds and that things are only going to get worse because of austerity:
With all the emphasis in Milwaukee County on treating people with mental illness, the best focus is on increasing supportive housing programs, argued Jim Hill, vice president of housing and government relations for the Milwaukee Center for Independence and a former director of the county's Behavioral Health Division.

"Housing is treatment," Hill said. "If we can't keep pace with decent, safe, affordable housing, the mental health system grinds to a halt."

Developers who have built projects in Milwaukee in the past five years urged local governments to get more creative about finding tax incentives and financing schemes. A change in federal tax laws will mean less money available for tax credits beginning Jan. 1.

"We are in for some tough times," warned Erich Schwenker of Cardinal Capital Group. "Our backs are against the wall and we are going to have to be innovative."

Michael Goldberg of Heartland Partners urged attendees to push state officials to consider a plan implemented in Illinois that allows a 50% state tax credit for land donated to low-income housing.

Jim Mathy, administrator of the county's supportive housing program, said the county is moving forward with several projects in 2014, including housing for women veterans. He said the big push will be for housing in the suburbs.

"It's extremely difficult to do affordable housing in the suburbs," Mathy said. "But this is where our next big moves will be."
What the article doesn't mention is that there will not only be the financial issues to overcome, but there will also be the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) factor that they will encounter.

People are going to be concerned for their safety and for their property values (which have dropped like rocks thanks to Scott Walker's misadventures in governing.).

The question would be why is Abele in such a rush to move the patients out of the mental health complex even though the way he is doing it is so reckless and is endangering the safety of the patients and the community.

The answer probably lies in the fact that the mental health complex is located in an area that is becoming very valuable due to the reconstruction of the zoo interchange and the exploitation of the county grounds.  I'm sure that Abele and his fellow plutocrats at the Greater Milwaukee Coimmittee - who are the ones exploiting the county grounds - would be able to exploit this land as well and turn a tidy profit at the same time.

And c'mon, which do you think is more important to plutocrats like Abele - poor people or profits?

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