Apts. for mentally ill draw fire from CB 12

By Ivan Pereira

Daniel Johansson, executive vice president of the Association for Rehabilitative Case Management and Housing, presented his proposal at the monthly meeting on Feb. 20 for a state-funded, 68-unit building to be built on 90-30 171 St.Although the facility is an as-of-right, a development complying with local zoning requirements and for which the Buildings Department may issue a permit without other agencies' approval, board members were upset that the association had chosen their community since it already has a number of homeless shelters, halfway homes and other such places.”There was a lot of apprehension about it. In Board 12 we feel we're the dumping grounds for everything,” said board member Manny Caughman.Johansson acknowledged the board's concerns, but reassured members that the building would not be detrimental to the neighborhood's well-being. The $15.5 million building will house residents diagnosed with serious mental illness but who can live independently.Potential residents will have to meet strict criteria, such as administering the ability to make money and pay bills on time, administer their medications regularly and live mutually with others.”These aren't the crazy people, these are the people who reached the prime of their rehabilitation,” he said. “They don't need a center they just need a place to live with help on hand.”The state's Office of Mental Health is funding the construction of the building, according to Johannson. The apartment's designs are still being worked out, but should be ready in six months.Board members still had concerns with the idea of a group of mentally ill patients living near them. They cited the recent murder of an East Side therapist by a violent, mentally ill Corona man as a strong reason against the placement of the building.”There was a lot of apprehension about it. We suggested that they put [it] in Creedmoor,” Caughman said. Creedmoor Psychiatric Center is in Queens Village.Johansson said the building will be maintained by professional staff who will check on residents and be on hand if they have any problems. He also said the agency has dozens of similar rooms in private apartment buildings for their clients that did not have any incidents.”Queens has the least amount of housing for mentally ill. So many people have a family member or know someone with a mental disorder,” he said.Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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