May 30, 2013
To our Honorable Legislators:
NC CANSO, the North Carolina Consumer Advocacy, Networking, and Support Organization, is a state-wide organization for people who personally live with mental illness or addiction but who seek to live more meaningfully, not controlled by illness but in control of their own personal wellness. In this regard, we have found that the settlement between our state and the U.S. Department of Justice to be consistent with our values of individual self-determination, a focus on recovery, the shaking off of the disability that sometimes systems actually create and worsen, and integration of people into their own communities so they can live a higher quality of life.
However, we feel that in order to achieve the aims of the settlement, we have to consider strategically what services must remain in place during a transitional period so that, when the infrastructure is fully in place, people can be helped into appropriate housing with the services necessary to let them live independently again. Unfortunately, we will not have immediate infrastructure to serve people as humanely and cost effectively as possible this year. For many, the only solution to the housing dilemma is the use of group homes for the time being.
We urge the legislature to ensure that there is housing with some level of supervision and support through group homes as we divert people coming out of the hospitals to smaller, less institutional settings than those our state has supported for so many years.
We thank you for your concern for the well-being of North Carolinians who have complicated lives because of mental illness. Our organization can attest to the fact that people can and do recover, and we look forward to helping our peers live more meaningfully through our support and advocacy at the community level. But we need your leadership to ensure their safety and shelter. Please do not take away funding for group homes at this time.