In early 1999, MAMH decided to designate the development and funding of community-based housing for people with mental illnesses sand their families as its highest public policy priorities. Following that decision, MAMH published and distributed its first People are Waiting Report. That report listed partially redacted Department of Mental Health (DMH) client identification numbers to document 3,138 adult clients of DMH were on waiting lists for housing or residential support services.
MAMH has published six (6) People Are Waiting Reports. The Reports have become the centerpiece of a successful effort among legislators, DMH, MAMH and other advocacy organizations to focus on and address the housing needs of individuals with severe and persistent mental illnesses, and their families. For example,
- 255 Community placements were created with $10.2 Million saved from the closing of a state hospital and other inpatient facilities.
- Another 268 Community placements were created and funded over a three-year period (Fiscal years, 2005,2006 and 2007).
- In addition, for four consecutive years, the legislature has increased a special rental assistance account for DMH clients by $500,000, bringing the account to its present total of $4 Million.
During the past two year legislative session (2007&2008) housing policy recommendations advanced by MAMH in its 2007 People Are Waiting Report were adopted by the Legislature: These included:
- Legislation requiring the development of not less than 44 units of housing for clients of the Department of Mental health at or near the site of the former Medfield State Hospital was enacted and signed into law.
- An additional $500,000 in rental assistance for DMH Clients was added to the DMH Budget in both Fiscal year 2008 and 2009.
- An amendment to an existing law provided DMH much needed flexibility for more extensive development of integrated housing models for its clients
MAMH published its most recent People Are Waiting Report in early 2009.