Neighbors Shocked to Learn Mentally Ill Packed Into House

(Memphis) Some in southwest Memphis say they’re disturbed to find out they live next door to a home filled with people suffering from mental illness.

The house came into the spotlight last weekend when mentally ill people there were robbed, stripped naked and beaten.

It turns out the house on Levi Road is completely unregulated by the State of Tennessee.

“It was brutal. I thought, ‘Man! We are going to die!’. I’m still sick from that right now,” said Schizophrenic Kenneth McCline, who survived the attack.

McCline and his 14 roommates were attacked by two men with a knife and a baseball bat. Police say the criminals were after their disability checks.

“He was going to kill us,” said McCline.  “They were going to kill us. By the grace of God we are still here today,” said McCline.

The story shocked neighbors, but some were more concerned to find out they lived next to a home like this, filled with people who suffer from mental illness.

“I don’t like it,” said Neighbor Cora Jones.  “I don’t like it but there’s nothing I can do about it.”

“Are these places regulated?” asked Reporter Sabrina Hall.

“If they’re licensed, they are regulated,” said Veronica Black with the National Alliance on the Mentally Ill. “If it’s a privately owned boarding house then there’s no regulation.”

Black says Memphis is sorely lacking in licensed care homes that provide monitoring and care, so many are forced to live crammed in boarding houses offered by private landlords.

“There is just really not enough resources. There’s really not. We are huge city and underfunded,” said Black.

Licensed care homes are required by law to notify neighbors they are moving in while private landlords don’t have to do that, leaving neighbors like Cora Jones to find out when something goes wrong.

“Are you surprised something like that happened?” asked Hall.

“No. There are a bunch of them in there,” said Jones.

“The majority of people were severely mentally ill become victims,” said Black.

Black says people shouldn’t be concerned the mentally ill are our neighbors but more troubled that the City and State don’t have enough resources for them.

Black says she doesn’t recommend mentally ill live in boarding houses but she says sometimes that’s the only option.

If you would like to see a list of the licensed care homes in Memphis, click here: http://www.recoverywithinreach.org/housingwithinreach/

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