About

The Mental Health Project enforces the right of low-income New Yorkers with mental illness.
We are a team of attorneys, social workers and advocates representing individual clients, bringing class action lawsuits, and engaging in community education and outreach with the belief that low-income people with mental illness are entitled to live stable and full lives, free from discrimination.

WHAT DO WE DO?


HISTORY
Originally founded in a burned-out building in East Harlem as the Legal Action Center for the Homeless (LACH) in 1984, LACH gradually evolved into an ten-project umbrella organization known as the Urban Justice Center (UJC). Within this framework, we are the Mental Health Project, an interdisciplinary team focusing on advocating for New Yorkers with mental illness.

The Mental Health Project was founded in 1994 when Mark A. Hurwitz, a LACH staff attorney specializing in the mental health issues under a fellowship grant, secured funding from HUD for a pilot project to provide free legal and advocacy services to homeless individuals with mental disabilities in New York City. At the time, despite existing supportive housing beds available to serve this population, too many homeless people were discharged to shelters and city streets because of a combination of poor discharge planning, unawareness of available resources, and the failure of many hospitals to obey legal mandates safeguarding the rights of discharged patients. The Project aimed to address an intractable problem facing homeless people with mental illness at the time - obtaining housing upon discharge from psychiatric hospitals.