My name is Michael Drutz and I am a resident of an adult home in Brooklyn. I’d rather not live there but right now I have no where else to go. Here is my story. I lived in my own apartment in Brooklyn for twenty years. Five years ago, my mother moved in with me after having a stroke and I cared for her. I also worked as a security guard at Kennedy Airport. I was working for Air Canada and they went bankrupt and had to let people go. I lost my job in July 2003 and my mother died the same month. I tried to find another job without success and was not able to pay the rent.
I was hospitalized for depression in October 2003 and continued treatment at a local mental health clinic after I got out of the hospital. When I was finally evicted from my apartment in July 2004, my doctor put me in South Beach Psychiatric Center, where I stayed until October. From there they put me into a group home in Staten Island. The hospital social worker didn’t offer me any choices, and didn’t even know anything about the place, had just been given a flyer about a place. They told me—this is where you’re going, and that was it. This unlicensed group home turned out to be very religious. They took me to a shelter because I wouldn’t go through with their religious program. I ended up riding the trains for three months while continuing to go to Mapleton clinic. The social worker at the clinic didn’t help me find a place to live. Another client there was a resident of an adult home and he told the administrator about me. That’s the way I found out about the home I live in.
I want the life I had before. You’re always under someone’s thumb in an adult home. You have to eat when they want you to eat. They treat you like you’re inferior and they don’t like you to have independent thoughts. There’s too much emphasis on profit and not anything for the residents. I haven’t had medication for about a week now because I don’t have Medicaid and they haven’t helped me with my benefits. The casemanager at my adult home told me she doesn’t work for the residents—she works for the home. I want a casemanager who is independent and who will advocate for me and help me get the things I need.
In addition to case management, we need housing options. In the hospital and in adult homes, they don’t see the differences between people. They put you all in one lump. I’m high functioning and I’ve lived on my own. If I had had the chance to get supportive housing when I was in the hospital I would have wanted it. Now I want to be completely independent. The services I’ve had—in my clinic, the hospital, the group home and the adult home—never helped me get a decent place to live.