14 Dev. Mental Health L. 1 (1994)

handle is hein.journals/dvmnhlt14 and id is 1 raw text is: Developments in
Mental Health Law
Institute of Law, Psychiatry and Public Policy - The University of Virginia
Volume 14, Number I                                                 January - June 1994
Housing Discrimination and the Mentally Ill:
the Impact of Federal Law
by John Petrila, J.D., LL.M *
In 1984, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) published a report on housing and the
treatment of people who were homeless and mentally ill (Lamb, 1984). The APA report stressed
the importance of housing in enabling people with mental illness to live successfully in the
community. Prior to the report's publication, many mental health professionals viewed housing
as a social welfare issue: important, but not a responsibility of treating professionals. The report
effectively eliminated that distinction.
Since then, a number of studies have reaffirmed the critical role that housing plays in com-
munity-based treatment (Baker and Douglas, 1990; Fields, 1990; Ridgway and Zipple, 1990).
Surveys of primary consumers of mental health services and their families consistently suggest
that stable housing is often more important than mental health treatment to successful commu-
nity residence (Harp, 1993; Tanzman, 1993; Tanzman, Wilson, and Yoe, 1992).
Despite the critical importance of housing, people with mental illness often have difficulty in
obtaining access to it. A major obstacle to access is discrimination (Alisky and Iczkowski, 1990;
Trute, Teffi, and Segall, 1990) often based on fear of people with disabilities and on concern
that property values will decrease if people with mental illness move into a neighborhood (Ellis,
1992; Boydell, Trainor, and Pierri, 1989). State and municipal laws also have created barriers to
housing by imposing special requirements and restrictions for the location and operation of
housing for people with disabilities; the United States Supreme Court created a legal environ-
ment in which at least                                        such restrictions
some restrictions                                             under the rational
might survive legal             Also in this issue:           basis test, the
challenge by ruling in                                        judicial test most
1985 that it would     In the Virginia Courts            4    likely to result in the
review equal protec-                                          upholding of govern-
tion challenges to     In the Federal Courts             5     mental action (City of
Cases from other States           10    Cleburne, 1985).
*Professor of Law,                                            In 1988, Congress
University of South   Essay                            20    enacted the Fair
Florida                                                      Housing Act Amend-

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