From AP - News Headlines -

Lawsuit Settlement Requires New Homes for 4500 Mentally Ill Illinoisans

A lawsuit that complained that thousands of mentally Ill people in Illinois are being treated unfairly is about to be settled.

The settlement orders the state to transfer 256 people from larger institutions to smaller homes or apartments over the next year, with nearly 400 more transferred next year. Over the next five years the agreement between the state and the American Civil Liberties Union would affect about 4500 mentally ill Illinoisans.

Diane Zell heads the Champaign chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. She says too many people left institutions only to be warehoused in nursing homes not designed to care for them. She fears that the state's economic situation may not mean a smooth transition for many of those people.

"Most poeple who have serious mental illness have not completed their education, and they may not be employed, at least not employed to the extent where they have health insurance," said Zell. "So this is a problem that won't go away."

Nevertheless, advocates of the mentally ill are hailing the agreement as a landmark. The settlement needs a judge's approval and both sides have requested a hearing to consider the specifics of the plan.