Blog entry

We Still Need Affordable “Quality” Housing

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Just saying … When our son was diagnosed with a serious mental illness it was in the 70’s, and there was very little available in terms of medications, treatments or facilities that rendered services. We were informed of a Clinic in Los Angeles and contacted that organization. We discussed it with our son and made arrangements to travel to Los Angeles and “look over” the Clinic and separate living arrangements. The Clinic was fine, but it was our first experience with a large board and care, and we were shocked when we entered the facility. There were approximately sixty persons living there, and at that time the medications being used were mostly Haldol, Thorazine, Prolixin and some of the other drugs that had come out in the fifties. Many of the folks we encountered were suffering from some of the severe side effects of the medications, and we had never seen this before. Nonetheless, we were determined to do whatever, we, as a family, had to do to help our son. We were shown a room that had “distressed” furniture, two twin beds, and torn, frayed lace curtains hanging unevenly from the window. Our son, laid down on the bed, covered his eyes with his left arm and said; “It’s okay, Mom I’ll stay”. I knew he was hiding tears and was amazed at his courage. My husband and I never looked at each other on the way out, and when we reached the parking lot we dared to look at one another and we were both crying. My husband said, “I can’t do this” and I gratefully agreed. We ran back in, hugged our son, had him discharged, and then looked for a phone. We called the Administrator of the Clinic and said we were headed back. We were not going to leave our son in the housing arrangements he recommended. He asked for a few minutes to make arrangements for us to visit another place before we went back – we agreed. We drove to a lovely, clean, well-kept private residence in a nice neighborhood and knocked on the door. We were met by a friendly woman who invited us in. The house was spotless. There were five other people living there and they came to meet us. There was a roast in the oven and the manager of the house invited our son to sit down and have dinner with them. He sat at the table, started eating and appeared right at home. We were able to leave him, not happily, but hopefully, and will never forget the amazing contrast between the two living arrangements. To this day, our son remembers the name of the small Board and Care and speaks in loving terms of the manager and the others who were living there. I was, and still am, grateful for their great care.

Things have not changed much – we are still fighting for affordable quality housing because … it’s all about that hope.

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