I read the account of the homeless mentally ill who stay in the Westside area (Dec. 31), wondering how many mentally retarded men and women were among them. I have known . . . (a) number of mentally ill adults with mental retardation who have turned their backs on inappropriate living arrangements to try life on the streets.
Concern for them is unleashed with each new report I read. With virtually no relevant housing programs on the Westside or, for that matter, in many other areas, where could they be? Are they safe and well?
Persons who are both mentally retarded and mentally ill (known as dually diagnosed) have a double stigma to fight, and, although more often than not, they are housed, however unsuitably, there are many who have no roots, rotating from one board-and-care home to the next, practicing another form of homelessness.
I think your Westside story hit me hard because I am one among many parents in that part of town who struggle daily with the fact that the need for appropriate residential programs is going unheeded, not only for those who are mentally ill but for many of our sons and daughters who are at once mentally ill and mentally retarded.