A judge is ordering New York state to move thousands of residents with mental illness out of institutional settings and into small, supported living environments much faster than the state proposed.

New York must create 1,500 supported living placements over each of the next three years, Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis said Monday. Such placements in apartments or homes would allow residents to live alone or with a small group of roommates independently, with some assistance.

The new placements are the result of a ruling in September which found that the state’s “adult homes” where 4,300 residents live were in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The judge said the homes kept residents segregated from the community much like the psychiatric hospitals of decades past that they replaced.

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Under the judge’s order, residents who are considered at risk for harming themselves or others would remain in the adult homes. But other residents will be able to choose whether they want to remain in their current placement or move to the less restrictive setting.

The swift action called for by the judge this week amounts to a kick in the pants for New York state which proposed a less aggressive transition plan. The state wanted to create just 1,000 new homes and planned to do so over a five year period.

“The court is disappointed and, frankly, incredulous that defendants sincerely believed this proposal would suffice,” the judge wrote of the state proposal, according to The New York Times. To read more click here.