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Community-based Chaos

James Panero has this article in the City Journal with the above title.  It is subtitled "The de Blasio administration has all the wrong answers on the homeless mentally ill."

For New Yorkers who remember the bad old days, the recent reminders of an era when urban pathologies ruled the streets can be jarring. Back when times were tough, residents of my neighborhood on the Upper West Side passed by abandoned graffiti-covered lots, crunched red-capped crack vials under their feet, and worried about when Larry Hogue, the "Wild Man of 96th Street," would make his next appearance. Now some of this sense of foreboding seems to be coming back.
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More recently, the New York Post made a cover story out of a 49-year-old homeless man named Monk, a well-known local presence who for years has resided in his own fetid sidewalk encampment of blankets, trash, and crumpled newspapers on Broadway near Zabar's. The Post featured Monk urinating in the middle of Broadway in broad daylight with the headline 20 YEARS OF CLEANING UP NEW YORK CITY PISSED AWAY.
The Post does have a way with headlines.  Continuing with Panero's piece:

Without a comprehensive approach to mental illness that includes a fresh look at institutionalization, however, the only idea that de Blasio and liberal homeless advocates can come up with is what they call "community-based solutions"--that is, placing facilities for the homeless, the mentally ill, and even convicted criminals in residential neighborhoods. But by basing treatment in such areas rather than in sequestered settings, these solutions introduce destabilizing populations into functioning communities. They damage the city's social fabric, further marginalize residents already at risk, and poorly serve those in need. Yet they also enrich certain landlords and homeless-industry insiders, who profit from their incursion.
A lot fewer people need institutionalization today than in the Cuckoo's Nest days, in part because we really were locking up too many people then but mostly because of the miracle of antipsychotic medications.  We went too far, though, and until we face up to that we are not going to find effective solutions.

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