New York lawmakers are weighing legislation that is meant to strengthen services for elderly people living in mental health housing. 

A measure approved this week in the state Assembly would create a task force on aging in place for people who are in mental health hosuing facilities. If granted final approval, the measure would come on top of efforts by New York to create a master plan for aging in the state. 

The bill, backed by state Sen. Samra Brouk and Assemblymember Eileen Gunther, will head to Gov. Kathy Hochul's desk for her consideration. 

“Elderly residents of mental health housing programs deserve access to high-quality care that aligns with their progressing needs,” said Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, a sponsor of the measure. “More than 40,000 New Yorkers with severe mental illness reside in community-based mental health housing. The model used at these facilities was created over 40 years ago and does not represent the needs of today’s population. That’s why I cosponsored this bill and pushed for its passage this session. It will help provide more efficient and effective care for one of the most vulnerable communities in our state.”

People living in mental health housing face several challenges, from daily medication to co-occurring medical conditions. More than 40% of residents are 55 years of age or older. 

“Unfortunately, many housing facilities lack the necessary resources to provide medical care for residents, along with most nursing homes not accepting those with severe mental illnesses,” Santabarbara said. “This legislation will help address the obstacles in mental health housing programs, and help facilities meet the increasingly complex care needs of residents.”