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California is fighting homelessness, but New York is taking on the real problem

How do we know when someone is too mentally ill to make their own decisions?

When to take away rights is a problem we have dodged for too long in part because it is uncomfortable, complicated and personal.

There are laws both at the federal and state levels that provide answers, but they don’t provide consensus. Our squeamishness toward finding consensus is not OK. It’s what keeps us from making real change.

The less-publicized part of Adams’ announcement tries to get at that problem.

Adams is pushing to clarify state law to make it unambiguous

When untreated mental illness leaves a person unable to meet their basic survival needs and/or helpless to avoid psychiatric deterioration, involuntary hospital care is warranted legislative plan

That means someone with a diagnosed psychotic illness — not simply a mental illness — who is also living on the streets and unable to care for themselves could be a candidate for involuntary treatment without needing to be an immediate danger to themselves or others.


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