Support The Community Assistance Act for Persons with Mental Illness (Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson)

Individuals who are both mentally ill and homeless face a daunting array of choices when they leave inpatient or residential institutions—as a former psychiatric nurse, I know this first-hand—and these decisions can have serious ramifications in terms of access to appropriate programs and services and future quality of life.

On Wednesday, January 28, I reintroduced the Community Assistance Act for Persons with Mental Illness, in an effort to provide support, in the form of housing and financial counseling, to these individuals during this important time period.

The legislation would cost the federal government no additional money—it designates funds already allocated to state and local governments under the community development and community mental health services and substance abuse block grant programs.  Qualifying housing counseling would include information on how to apply for public housing, housing assistance and tax credit programs, and housing laws.  Qualifying financial counseling would include information on saving, managing credit, long-term care, estate planning, predatory lending, identity theft, financial abuse schemes, and work incentives.

Providing information to people who are homeless and mentally ill is not enough.  But it is a critical component of how we can help a group of people who truly need our help.  I hope this legislation becomes law—I believe it is the least we can do.