Molinaro hears from Broome County mental health, addiction providers
New York Congressman Marc Molinaro heard from mental health care providers, law enforcement, and elected officials during a roundtable he held in Binghamton this week.
The group discussed what more might be done to address a rising need for mental health and substance use disorder services in Broome County.
One theme that came up, again and again, was housing. Local providers said with limited access to affordable housing, more people are ending up homeless.
“The housing situation has gotten worse,” Broome County Executive Jason Garnar said. “And that seems to be, [from] talking to people, that's the base foundation of recovery. If you can't get inside of a room, then how can you expect to even start to get on the path to recovery?”
Garnar said the county has plans ready for several affordable housing projects. But he and Binghamton Mayor Jared Kraham said they can’t move forward with them without a last piece of funding from the state.
Congressman Molinaro said another issue is the way services are kept separate and siloed. Molinaro, who represents parts of the Southern Tier and Hudson Valley, referenced a model he said he helped come up with in Dutchess County, where social services and mental health treatment are all in one place.
“You take the social service intake, you take the mental health professional, you take the recovery coach, you take the police officer with training, you take the public defender and you put them all in the same building,” Molinaro said. “And you say you are going to work here, and that becomes the single point of access for those who need it.”
Several providers also brought up the issue of state funding. They say funding streams are very separate and distinct for each state agency, and that makes it harder for them to collaborate with each other.
Molinaro expressed frustration with what he sees as a lack of movement on the state level.
“The state is apparently dedicating a billion dollars to mental health, but nobody knows what for,” Molinaro said. “And the state legislature left session without addressing allocation of funding for the opioid crisis.”
According to the Broome County Opioid Awareness Council, there were 34 non-fatal overdoses last month. Last year, the county saw 480 non-fatal overdoses, and 80 overdose deaths.
The group also discussed workforce and staffing challenges, the need for housing, and an increase in need among younger people when it comes to mental health support.