By Julia Marsh and Bruce Golding
The city budget deal struck Wednesday includes $115 million in added spending by the new city agency that grew out of first lady Chirlane McCray’s controversial, $1.25 billion mental-health initiative.
The boost gives the Office of Community Mental Health — which Mayor Bill de Blasio created last month to make permanent and also rebrand the former ThriveNYC program — a total of nearly $320 million in taxpayer money under the spending plan for fiscal 2022.
The additional allocation of taxpayer money includes $96 million for a citywide expansion of the multi-agency Behavioral Health Emergency Assistance Response Division — known as “B-HEARD” — which dispatches teams of EMTs and social workers in response to 911 calls about non-violent, emotionally disturbed people.
The program, which was launched in parts of Harlem earlier this year, is intended to reduce the number of confrontations between cops and mentally ill people, although B-Heard teams can still summon the NYPD if situations spiral out of control.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and Speaker Corey Johnson announce an agreement has been made for a balanced budget for the Fiscal year 2022.
Other new spending includes $12 million for 25 mobile treatment teams to care for 675 people with serious mental illness and histories of crime and homelessness, bringing the total number of teams to 100.
De Blasio quietly remade ThriveNYC into a city agency following years of complaints that his wife’s signature program was a costly boondoggle.
Councilman Robert Holden (D-Queens), a persistent critic, said of the new funding, “I’m all for spending money on mental health but do we have any confidence in the administration that brought us ThriveNYC?”
Councilman Joseph Borelli (R-Staten Island), also said, “It was never clear why we kept funding Thrive; it’s even less clear why we are nearly doubling the funds for a Thrive by a new name.”