former Governor goes undercover as a homeless person

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former Governor goes undercover as a homeless person

Post  topgroove on Fri Mar 09, 2012 8:10 pm

Monday night, Jimmy Peters had nowhere to go. The mentally ill man had just been released from the psychiatric ward of a local hospital. Dressed in worn out clothes, the bearded man, with tattoos all over his body, set out to find a place to sleep for the night.

State Senator Richard Codey played the role of Jimmy Peters on Monday as he went undercover to determine how a homeless mentally ill resident could survive. Codey, who served as New Jersey Governor for 14 months in 2004 and 2005, has long been an advocate for the mentally disabled.

NBC News reports that Codey took to the makeup chair for over an hour on Monday to get prepared for the role. He wore a fake beard and had phony tattoos. His teeth were made to look tobacco-stained and his face was altered to appear worn and tired.

The New Jersey State Senator then took to the streets of Newark trying to find a shelter that would accept him for the night. This task would not prove to be an easy one for Codey as shelter after shelter turned him down. Most shelters in Newark required their occupants to be officially registered for government assistance.

"To find a place to take you if you're homeless was impossible essentially, unless you're on some government entitlement program," Codey told NBC News.

For fear that this experiment would be a bust, Codey placed a call to Ross Croesmann, a Newark case worker, who helped the former Governor into the Goodwill Goodwill Rescue Mission by 9 p.m.

As Codey told Good Day New York on Wednesday, he was only allowed to stay in the shelter for one night as the occupants are asked to leave by 7 a.m. He wasn’t able to get a cot, so he was forced to join the other 20 occupants there and sleep on the floor with a bedroll and a blanket.

"For me it was tough, I sleep on my side so by 3 a.m. my hip was hurting," Codey told NBC afterwards.

Bob Davison, executive director of the Mental Health Association of Essex County, told MSNBC that “sometimes you get in, sometimes you don't.” Both Davison and Codey told the news source that there are more mentally ill out on the street than institutionalized, after recent cutbacks at both state psychiatric hospitals and in the psychiatric wards at community hospitals.

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Re: former Governor goes undercover as a homeless person

Post  Highplains Drifter on Sun Mar 11, 2012 11:57 am

Interesting read.
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Re: former Governor goes undercover as a homeless person

Post  EL on Sun Mar 11, 2012 12:25 pm

It is a sad statement to make, but the mentally ill have many times become a "disposable population" in today's society. With the arrival of "managed care".... many cannot get the help(which includes anything from medications to shelter) that they desperately need. My daughter, being a professional in the field sees the funding for the mentally ill and mentally handicapped cut more every year...the good news being that there are people out there like her who fight and work for the mentally ill and handicapped, to ensure that they can get all the help that she can find for them. She is highly overworked and underpaid, but it is her passion, and I thank God there are those out there who still fight for their "wellbeing." Many of these people have nothing, and it seems in these times they are as unimportant at the elderly, children and poor...a sad commentary on today's society.
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Re: former Governor goes undercover as a homeless person

Post  topgroove on Sun Mar 11, 2012 12:58 pm

Back in 1987, I had just got out of the Navy and was dating my wife. Her younger brother Luke was a normal kid living a normal life. Without any warning, Luke suffered a nervous breakdown and developed serious mental problems. We all loved Luke and did everything we could for him.
He spent the next fifteen years of his life in and out of counciling and hospitals. His medications took away the lows, but unfortunatly took the highs away too! Our biggest fear was that Luke would hurt himself.
Luke passed on Mermorial day weekend, 2004. He was fishing with his father and died instantly from a massive heart attack. I will never forget Luke, through his life he had the constant love and support of his family and we miss him dearly.

The sad truth about mental illness is most victims simply do not have a support structure in place. patients rely on State funded programs which are hopelessly underfunded . Most people do not understand mental illness and have a stigma attached to it. We've all seen it... that crazy guy walking down the street talking to himself, Maybe the homeless person sleeping in the alley. Alone, isolated and confused, living a tortured existance. Most people simply look away! Kinda easy to ignor.

Feels kinda funny talking about this subject.. Duckhunter made a joke about this at the other site which led to my banning and the creation of this site.
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Re: former Governor goes undercover as a homeless person

Post  EL on Sun Mar 11, 2012 1:38 pm

That was a very touching post Groove, I wish more people were as enlightened as you are. The fact is that the mentally ill live among us everyday. There are the obvious ones that we see living on the street, that are institutionalized, but there are those among our peers that we interact with on a regular basis, that to the naked eye appear "normal." We have no idea of any illness of the "mind." There are actually people out there who do not look at mental illness as an illness. They look at it as a "weakness" of the person, one that if they were a stronger, better person they could overcome. We all pay attention to the schizophrenics, or the "anti social" personalities, as they often are "criminal" in their behavior. It is the depressed, the bi-polar etc that often go overlooked, as they can function on a level that appears normal to the naked unsuspecting eye.....they typically are not a threat to others, but to themselves...and this sounds like your story of "Luke." My father had a nervous breakdown when I was a child, and though he never sought help, and would never admit it, suffered from mental illness his entire adult life. He was old school, and that is just not the way it worked......Thanks for sharing Groove. It is a topic near and dear to my heart, and nothing to ever make reference to in a "joking manner." There are still so many out there "without a clue."
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