Posted on July 25, 2011
Communications Director, Fountain House
Amid a city-wide budget reduction of $2.5 million, the New York City Department of Mental Health recently cut Fountain House’s funding by $379,000. A $271,000 contract that supported the four-person Active Reachout team was completely defunded, and $108,000 was cut from the clubhouse contract that funds daily program operations.
The Active Reachout staff was a mobile team that provided assistance to Fountain House members who live in their own apartments throughout the city. Nadine, a member who received these services, is concerned. She said, “I’ve been able to stay out of the hospital for five years. In all sincerity, had it not been for Active Reachout, I couldn’t have done that. They’ve been lifesavers for me. They help me make sense of things and advocate for me.”
Active Reachout Supervisor, Ian Campbell remarked, “These cuts are going to jeopardize this group of 142 people. While some of them, presumably, will be fine, others will be at risk for isolation, hospitalization, and homelessness.”
Cuts to the program budget have forced difficult decisions within Fountain House, including discontinuing all Deaf interpreting services and laying off several program staff. Interpreter Barbara Wolver mourns the loss. She observed, “Fountain House is the only place in the city that offers Deaf and Hard of Hearing people who are also living with mental illness a comprehensive range of community support - like housing, education, and employment assistance - and a place to belong. In general, one of the big problems Deaf people have, particularly Deaf people with mental illness, is a sense of isolation. Fountain House gives these dual diagnosed members a place to go where, especially when interpreters were present, they could be heard.”
The Fountain House Advocacy Committee has spearheaded a letter-writing and petition campaign to protest the cuts and urge officials to restore funds. Join the campaign.
Fountain House President Kenn Dudek commented, “In order to address the impact of these cuts on our program and our morale, our community will have to pull together to support each other. Members, staff, volunteers, and supporters - we need everyone’s best efforts to creatively address these new challenges and to continue to provide vital services in this difficult time.”