WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today filed a motion to intervene in Disability Advocates Inc. v. David A. Paterson, et al. in federal court in the Eastern District of New York. The United States alleges that the state of New York has failed to house thousands of individuals with mental illness who currently reside in large, institutional "adult homes" in the most integrated setting, in violation of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. An integrated setting is a setting that enables individuals with disabilities to interact with nondisabled persons to the fullest extent possible.
On Sep. 8, 2009, the district court ruled that the state discriminated against individuals with mental illness residing in adult homes, in violation of the integration mandate of the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act. The case has entered a stage where the court will determine a remedy for the violations. The United States now seeks to participate in crafting that remedy.
"As the Supreme Court determined in the landmark Olmstead v. L.C. case, unjustified institutionalization stigmatizes individuals with disabilities as unworthy of participation in community life," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "New York successfully provides community-based housing, such as scattered site apartments with supportive services, for individuals just like those currently residing in adult homes, and should provide the same opportunity for adult home residents."
"By moving to intervene in this case, we seek to support the development of an appropriate court-ordered remedy to ensure that the civil rights of individuals with mental illness in the city and state of New York are appropriately protected," said Benton J. Campbell, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
The full and fair enforcement of the ADA and its mandate to integrate individuals with disabilities is a major priority of the Civil Rights Division. The ADA protects individuals with disabilities from discrimination by public entities. People interested in finding out more about the ADA can call the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 1-800-514-0301 or 1-800-514-0383 (TTY), or access its ADA Web site at http://www.ada.gov.