Dear Commissioner Carter:
As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic exposed long-standing, significant weaknesses in the emergency and affordable housing available in Ramsey County.
On behalf of NAMI Ramsey County (National Alliance on Mental Illness), we implore you to prioritize housing for people living with serious mental illnesses who have long been overrepresented--and frequently overlooked--in populations of those experiencing homelessness. All too often people living with mental illnesses are discharged from in-patient hospital care, sober living, and community care facilities to the street with no housing plan. Added to that, their behaviors, stemming from a mental illness and/or substance abuse, too frequently bar them from available shelters.
As our board discussed in a recent letter to you, we urge Ramsey County to opt into the new engagement law allowing mental health workers to work with families on early intervention during the time a person living with a serious mental illness is decompensating. This is crucial to help people from losing their housing, being unnecessarily hospitalized, or worse yet, dispatched
through the criminal justice system when medical treatment for a disease of the nervous system is required.
Our board would gratefully discuss these and other issues related to mental illness and homelessness with you. We applaud your recent formation of county governance and steering committees to assist you in determining Ramsey County’s affordable housing response, and likewise would appreciate the opportunity to provide input from families and people with lived experiences of mental illnesses.
Please share this with the county commissioners and county manager.
President, NAMI Ramsey County
Board Member, NAMI Ramsey County
Author: NAMI ramsey board member michele gran
With editing help from the NAMI Ramsey board.