How the “Deinstitutionalization” of Mental Hospitals in the 20th Century Led to the Homelessness Epidemic of the 21st Century

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 6:00–7:30 P.M.


In 1955 the United States reached its peak number of mental hospital beds, almost all of which were in state-run facilities. At that time, there were over 500,000 psychiatric beds compared with just over 50,000 as of 2014 — a ninety percent reduction during this six-decade period. The “deinstitutionalization” movement of the late twentieth century is a primary cause of the increased population of unhoused and unsheltered individuals living on our city streets. Though some less debilitating forms of mental illness are successfully treated in outpatient clinics, many individuals suffering from severe mental illness still need long-term residential care and treatment facilities.

A panel composed of thought leaders from the fields of law, religion, social services, and medicine—Justice Gordon Goodman, Texas 1st Court of Appeals, Rabbi Oren Hayon, Senior Rabbi, Congregation Emanu El, Judson Robinson III, President of the Houston Area Urban League, and Dr. Asim Shah, Chief, Division of Community Psychiatry, Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Baylor College of Medicine—will discuss these issues and how to address them.


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