MetroFocus: April 30, 2021

Can you stop AAPI hate without understanding its roots? PBS series, “Asian Americans” explores the dark history of that hate in the time of COVID-19.   Documentarian and activist Hari Kondabolu joins us to discuss the five-part docuseries.

An ambitious housing program offers afflicted New Yorkers a better life by moving them out of institutions and into private homes. Frontline, in partnership with ProPublica, investigates how this sudden independence has proven deadly in “The Right To Fail.” Tonight ProPublica reporter Joaquin Sapien reports on a man diagnosed with schizophrenia as he faces violence and death to live on his own, after spending decades living in institutions and delves into a court-ordered effort to move those with serious mental illness into independent living, and the sometimes-dire consequences.

We take you on a tour of a 20-acre island near Manhattan that sits completely abandoned and closed off to visitors, without an official escort.

 

TRANSCRIPT

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS' WITH RAFAEL P. ROMAN, JACK FORD AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND.

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION AND BY -- JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER, JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD, CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY, JUDY AND JOSH WESTON, DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION, PATTI ASKWITH KENNER.

♪ ♪

> WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M RAFAEL P. ROMAN.

IN THE PAST FEW MONTHS WE'VE SEEN A TROUBLING RISE IN CORONAVIRUS-RELATED HATE CRIMES AGAINST ASIAN AMERICANS NATIONWIDE.

SADLY, THIS IS NOT THE FIRST TIME IN OUR HISTORY WHERE THIS PARTICULAR GROUP OF IMMIGRANTS HAS BEEN THE TARGET OF HATE.

THE UPCOMING PBS SERIES 'ASIAN AMERICANS' A FIVE-PART DOCUMENTARY BEGINNING ON MAY 11th WILL EXPLORE THE DARK PART OF THAT HATE.

JOINING US IS COMEDIAN AND DOCUME DOCUMENTARIAN.

HOW ARE YOU?

GOOD.

HOW ARE YOU?

YOU WILL BE PARTICIPATING IN THE DOCUMENTARY AND A LEAVE STREAM FACEBOOK EVENT STARTING APRIL 30th.

THAT'S RIGHT.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

IT'S A REAL HONOR TO HAVE YOU HERE.

THANK YOU.

I KNOW ABOUT YOUR WORK.

LET ME START WITH YOU.

YOU KNOW, IN THIS DOCUMENTARY SERIES, YOU SAY AT ONE POINT THAT GROWING UP IN QUEENS HAS, QUOTE, TRAINED YOU FOR THE FUTURE.

YEAH.

WHAT DID YOU MEAN BY THAT?

I MEAN, WHEN PEOPLE TALK ABOUT WHAT THEY'RE AFRAID OF WITH THE FUTURE OF AMERICA, THEY TALK ABOUT INCREASING DIVERSITY, PEOPLE SPEAKING MANY DIFFERENT LANGUAGES, DIFFERENT CULTURES AND NOT LOOKING LIKE THE SAME AMERICA THEY GREW UP WITH.

THE AMERICA THEY'RE TALKING ABOUT WITH ALL THIS DIVERSITY, THAT'S WHAT QUEENS, NEW YORK, IS, ONE OF THE MOST DIVERSE PLACES IN THE WORLD.

I GOT A TASTE OF THE WHOLE WORLD IN MY BACK YARD.

I FEEL LIKE THAT'S SUCH AN INCREDIBLE PRIVILEGE.

THESE THINGS PEOPLE AROUND THE COUNTRY SEEM TO FEAR TO ME IS THE NORM AND ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE.

I FEEL LIKE WHERE THIS NATION IS GOING AND WHERE THE WORLD IS GOING SINCE IT'S GLOBALIZING THE WAY IT IS, I FEEL MORE PREPARED FOR THAT THAN A LOT OF OTHER PEOPLE MIGHT BE.

IN THE DOCUMENTARY YOU ALSO TALK A LOT ABOUT 9/11 AND HOW THAT EVENT CHANGED TRAJECTORY OF YOUR PERSONAL LIFE.

HOW?

I FEEL LIKE I WAS SHELTERED IN THE DIVERSITY OF NEW YORK CITY AND OF QUEENS, NEW YORK.

CERTAINLY I HAD DEALT WITH RACISM.

BUT POST 9/11 ALL OF A SUDDEN YOU HAVE PEOPLE BEING DETAINED AND DEPORTED BY OUR GOVERNMENT, SO MANY VICTIMS OF HATE CRIMES, SO MANY OF THEM SOUTH ASIAN, ARAB, SIKH, SUCH A VARIETY, MANY DIFFERENT SHADES OF BROWN.

IMMIGRANTS WERE TARGETED.

ALL OF A SUDDEN THIS COUNTRY THAT I THOUGHT WAS MINE AS WELL DIDN'T FEEL SO MUCH LIKE MINE.

IT MADE ME THINK ABOUT HOW THIS COUNTRY WAS FORMED AND THE LEGACY OF RACISM THAT'S BEEN THERE.

THE DOCUMENTARY GIVES A LARGER CONTEXT FOR TODAY BY REPRESENTING VOICES THIS HADN'T BEEN REPRESENTED PREVIOUSLY AND CERTAINLY ME GOING BACK AND STUDYING A TRUE HISTORY WHERE YOU HEAR MANY DIFFERENT VOICES CERTAINLY INFORMED ME ABOUT WHAT I WAS BEING TAUGHT AND WHAT THE REALITY WAS.

YOU BECAME KIND OF AN ACTIVIST, RIGHT?

YOU DECIDED TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

WHEN I GRADUATED COLLEGE, I WAS AN IMMIGRANT RIGHTS ORGANIZER WITH AN ORGANIZATION CALLED ONE AMERICA IN SEATTLE, WASHINGTON.

THE DIRECTOR AND FOUNDER IS NOW THE CONGRESSWOMAN JAYAPAL.

SHE WAS AN EARLY MENTOR IN THAT ORGANIZATION.

IN 2005 YOU COULD SEE THE AMOUNT OF IGNORANCE AND ANGER AND ESPECIALLY THE THING WE DON'T TALK ABOUT ENOUGH IS THE GOVERNMENT.

THIS WASN'T JUST A FEW LOOSE CANNONS.

THIS WAS THE GOVERNMENT OKAYING THIS KIND OF DISCRIMINATION WITH THEIR OWN ACTIONS AND STATEMENTS.

LET'S GO BACK TO THE FIVE-PART DOCUMENTARY THAT YOU'RE A PART OF.

IT LOOKS AT PAST HISTORY TO SEE HOW IT INFORMS WHAT WE'RE DOING THROUGH NOW PARTICULARLY WITH THE ASIAN AMERICAN COMMUNITY.

I WONDER WHAT YOU THINK.

HOW DO YOU THINK HISTORY HAS INFORMED OUR CURRENT SITUATION?

ABSOLUTELY.

THE IDEA OF TARGETING A PARTICULAR GROUP OF PEOPLE AND BLAMING THEM FOR, YOU KNOW, THE CURRENT SITUATION IN THE COUNTRY IS NOT NEW.

POST 9/11 SOUTH ASIANS, ARABS, SIKHS WERE BLAMED.

DURING THE ECONOMIC DOWNTURN CITIES LIKE DETROIT IN THE LATE '70s AND EARLY '80s ALL OF A SUDDEN YOU HAVE ASIAN AMERICANS BEING TARGETED.

THE FAMOUS CASE OF VINCENT CHEN, A CHINESE AMERICAN THAT WAS KILLED BY A COUPLE OF WHITE MEN IN DETROIT.

AS A RESULT OF THAT, THE PEOPLE DIDN'T GO TO JAIL.

THEY PAID A $3,000 FINE AND THAT WAS KIND OF THE CONTEXT THEY WERE IN.

IT'S NOT THE SAME BUT CERTAINLY LIKE THAT LEGACY REMAINS OF LARGE GROUPS OF PEOPLE BEING TARGETED, PEOPLE BEING UNINFORMED IN THE AMERICAN MAINSTREAM, NOT SEEING PEOPLE THAT DON'T LOOK LIKE THEM AS THEIR NEIGHBORS, AS FELLOW AMERICANS.

AGAIN WE SEE THAT REPEATING ITSELF.

THE TWO WHITE MEN WHO KILLED VINCENT CHEN WERE AUTO WORKERS.

THEY WERE BLAMING CHEN BECAUSE OF JAPANESE CARS.

THAT WAS THE CONTEXT.

ONE OF THE THINGS THAT WAS SO DISTURBING ABOUT THIS DOCUMENTARY SERIES, IT SHOWS HOW THROUGHOUT THE HISTORY OF ASIAN AMERICANS IN THIS COUNTRY, THEY HAVE BEEN PITTED AGAINST OTHER OPPRESSED GROUPS FROM THE TIME OF THE CHINESE EXCLUSION ACT, WH THE HARD PRESSED WHITE WORKING MEN WERE AT THE FOREFRONT OF THAT FIGHT.

IN 1991 L.A. RIOTS, THE BIGGEST CONFLICT WAS BETWEEN THE RIOTERS AND AFRICAN-AMERICANS.

WHAT DOES THAT SAY TO ASIAN AMERICANS WHO WANT TO CREATE THE RAINBOW COALITION TO FIGHT INJUSTICE AND RACISM?

IT MEANS THERE'S A LOT OF WORK THAT HAS TO BE DONE IN TERMS OF OUTREACH, BETWEEN COMMUNITIES.

IT'S SO FUNNY TO ME WHEN PEOPLE TALK ABOUT THE FUTURE OF AMERICA BEING MINORITY WHITE, THAT HAS THE ASSUMPTION THAT EVERYONE ELSE IS UNITED.

FROM OUR HISTORY WE SHOW THAT'S NOT THE TRUTH AND THERE'S LOTS OF CULTURAL DIVISIONS AND MISTRUST.

CERTAINLY I FEEL LIKE ASIAN IMMIGRANTS HAVING THIS CONNOTATION OF BEING THE MODEL MINORITY, THAT MEANS THERE'S OTHER MINORITIES THAT ARE DOING IT WRONG.

THERE'S NO HISTORICAL CONTEXT, NO SOCIOECONOMIC EXPLANATIONS.

IT'S JUST VERY CLEAR RACISM.

THEY'RE DOING IT RIGHT, THEY'RE DOING IT WRONG.

THAT PITTING OF DIFFERENT GROUPS AGAINST EACH OTHER HAS BEEN EFFECTIVE FOR HUNDREDS OF YEARS IN THIS COUNTRY.

THE IDEA THAT BLACK PEOPLE NEVER BE EQUAL OR AS TALENTED AS WHITE PEOPLE, AS WELL AS THE IDEA THAT ASIAN PEOPLE WILL NEVER BE FULLY AMERICAN.

IT ALWAYS KEEPS US BOTH SEEN AS LESS THAN.

HOW DISTURBING DO YOU FIND IT THAT QUITE A NUMBER OF RECENT POLLS SHOW THAT THE VAST MAJORITY OF AMERICANS, INCLUDING A MAJORITY OF MINORITIES WANT TO STOP IMMIGRATION TO THIS COUNTRY, AT LEAST FOR THE TIME BEING?

SOUNDS FAMILIAR.

IT'S NEVER FOR THE TIME BEING.

PEOPLE FIND EXCUSES TO STOP IMMIGRATION AND THAT'S THE WAY IT STAYS FOR QUITE SOME TIME, WHETHER IT WAS POST 9/11 THE STRICT ANTI-IMMIGRATION STUFF PUT ON THE BOOKS, HOW CIVIL LIBERTIES WERE OPPRESSED DURING THAT TIME.

I FEEL LIKE WE ASSUME ONCE THIS IS OVER, IT WILL GO BACK TO THE WAY THINGS WERE.

IT'S NEVER THAT EASY.

SOMETHING ELSE THAT I WANTED TO ASK YOU TO SEE HOW DISTURBING YOU FOUND IT WHEN PRESIDENT TRUMP BLOCKED TRAVEL FROM CHINA TO THE UNITED STATES IN JANUARY AFTER OUR FIRST COUPLE OF CORONAVIRUS CASES WERE DISCOVERED IN THE UNITED STATES.

DEMOCRATS SAID IT WAS KPEN PHOBIC AND RACIST.

JUST RECENTLY NANCY PELOSI SAYS THAT THE 40,000 PEOPLE THAT THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION ALLOWED INTO THIS COUNTRY FROM CHINA, MOST OF WHOM WERE NATURALIZED CITIZENS AND GREEN CARD HOLDERS, THAT THEY SHOULD HAVE BEEN HELD BACK AS WELL.

I'M WONDERING IF YOU FIND IT DISTURBING, THIS SEEMING ATTEMPT TO OUT TRUMP TRUMP.

MORE THAN ANYTHING IT'S THE FRAMEWORK THAT THIS IS A CHINESE VIRUS ALMOST AS IF IT WAS A WEAPON BEING USED BY A FOREIGN PARTY TO HURT THE REST OF THE WORLD.

THAT'S NOT WHAT THIS IS.

THAT'S NOT HOW DISEASE WORKS, HOW VIRUSES WORK.

VIRUSES DON'T THINK ABOUT CULTURAL BACKGROUND WHEN THEY INHABIT A BODY.

I FEEL LIKE IT'S VERY SAD TO SEE -- AND THIS HAS ALWAYS BEEN THE WAY, GOING FOR THE LOWEST COMMON DENOMINATOR TO UNIFY PEOPLE THROUGH RACISM.

IF THERE'S A THEM, IT'S EASY TO MAKE AN US AND THAT'S VERY DANGEROUS.

WHAT STEPS DO YOU THINK NEED TO BE TAKEN THAT XENOPHOBIA --

THIS IS SOMETHING THAT'S AFFECTING ALL HUMAN BEINGS THROUGHOUT THE WORLD, MANY DIFFERENT TYPE OF HUMAN BEINGS REGARDLESS OF AGE AND IMMIGRATION STATUS AND GENDER AND KCOLOR.

A VIRUS DOES NOT DISCRIMINATE IN THAT WAY.

IT'S UP TO US TO NOT DISCRIMINATE.

WE DON'T HAVE A PRESIDENT OR A LEADER MAKE THOSE CLEAR STATEMENTS.

WHEN YOU'RE WILLING TO CHANGE CORONAVIRUS TO CHINESE VIRUS TO MAKE A LARGER POLITICAL POINT, TO SCORE SOME POINTS WITH YOUR CONSTITUENTS WITH THE PEOPLE THAT SUPPORT YOU, CLEARLY WE'RE LACKING STRONG LEADERSHIP.

THAT'S WHAT WE NEED.

WE NEED TO REMIND PEOPLE THESE PEOPLE ARE NOT THE ENEMY.

THIS VIRUS IS THE ENEMY.

WE'RE ALL IN IT TOGETHER.

I FEEL LIKE THERE'S BEEN A FAILURE OF LEADERSHIP IN THAT WAY.

SOMETHING ELSE THAT I FIND IRONIC IS THE FACT THAT THE PEOPLE WE PRAISE ON A DAILY BASIS, DOCTORS, HEALTH CARE WORKERS, GROCERY STORE WORKERS, TRUCKERS, THEY ARE THE VERY IMMIGRANTS THAT THE POLLS ARE SAYING PEOPLE WANT TO KEEP OUT.

I THINK IT'S IMPORTANT TO MAKE THE CONNECTION THAT A LOT OF THE LOW WAGE WORKERS WORKING ARE AFRICAN-AMERICANS, THEY'RE IMMIGRANTS, THEY'RE WORKING CLASS WHITE PEOPLE.

THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT THE PEOPLE WHO ARE THE MOST VULNERABLE ARE THE PEOPLE WITH THE LEAST AMOUNT OF MONEY.

THAT CUTS ACROSS RACE.

I FEEL LIKE WE OFTEN DOESN'T DISCUSS HOW IT CUTS ACROSS RACE, BUT IT DOES.

IT'S THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE JOBS THAT ARE NECESSARY AND VITAL AND THEY NEED THE MONEY.

THESE ARE THE MOMENTS WE HAVE TO LOOK AROUND AND SEE EVERYONE IS CHIPPING IN TO FIGHT THIS THING, WHETHER IT'S BY STAYING INSIDE OR BY WORKING JOBS THAT ARE NOW CERTAINLY SEEN AS ESSENTIAL.

I THINK SHOWING A COALITION OF PEOPLE FIGHTING THE VIRUS IS CRUCIAL TO REMIND PEOPLE THAT WE'RE IN THIS TOGETHER.

DO YOU SEE SIGNS THAT GIVE YOU OPTIMISM THAT THE FUTURE THAT WE WILL SEE AFTER CORONAVIRUS WILL BE MORE LIKE THE QUEENS THAT YOU GREW UP WITH THAN SOME KIND OF RACIST DYSTOPIA?

AND WE HAVE APPROXIMATELY 20 SECONDS LEFT.

I WILL SAY THAT I SEE A CERTAIN UNITY, WHETHER IT'S IN MEDIA AND TELEVISION AND FILM AND OTHER WAYS WHERE WE SEE VERY DIVERSE POPULATIONS COMING TOGETHER.

I THINK THAT SHOWS PEOPLE WE CAN DO THAT IN REALITY AS WELL.

YOU'RE BEEN SUCCESSFUL IN THAT FRONT.

I'M GLAD YOU JOINED US TODAY.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME, RAFAEL.

BYE.

> GOOD EVENING.

WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JENNA FLANAGAN.

MENTALLY ILL AND LIVING ON THEIR OWN, BUT ARE THEY READY TO DO SO?

UNDER AN AMBITIOUS HOUSING PLAN PROVIDED BY THE STATE, THOUSANDS OF MENTALLY ILL NEW YORKERS HAVE A CHANCE TO MOVE OUT OF ADULT HOMES AND INTO SUBSIDIZED APARTMENTS.

FOR MANY THE SHIFT TO INDEPENDENCE HAS PROVEN TO BE HAZARDOUS AND EVEN DEADLY.

IN A NEW DOCUMENTARY TITLED 'RIGHT TO FAIL' FRONT LINE WITH PROPUBLICA INVESTIGATES THIS FAULTY HOUSING.

THERE WAS A HUGE QUESTION ABOUT WHETHER PEOPLE THAT HAD BEEN INSTITUTIONALIZED CAN LIVE SUCCESSFULLY IN THE COMMUNITY.

AND A RIGHT TO FAIL.

FRONT LINE AND PROPUBLICA INVESTIGATED.

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU WERE LEFT ALONE?

I HAD NO COMPANY ACTUALLY.

THE QUESTION IS WHEN DO YOU TAKE AWAY SOMEBODY'S LIBERTY.

TUESDAY AT 10/9 CENTRAL.

HERE IS JOAQUIN SAPIEN.

WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

THANKS.

THIS WAS A DIFFICULT ONE FOR ME TO WATCH BECAUSE WE'RE TALKING ABOUT SOME OF THE MOST MARGINALIZED PEOPLE IN SOCIETY.

EXPLAIN WHAT IT IS THAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT WITH MENTALLY ILL PEOPLE IN ADULT HOUSING AND THEN THE SUBSIDIZED HOUSING.

THE FOCUS OF THE STORY IS ON RESIDENTS OF WHAT ARE CALLED ADULT HOMES, WHICH ARE ESSENTIALLY LARGE GROUP HOMES SCATTERED THROUGHOUT THE OUTSKIRTS OF NEW YORK CITY.

THEY WERE THE SUBJECT OF A REALLY DAMNING SERIES OF STORIES IN THE 'NEW YORK TIMES' IN 2002 ABOUT HOW MISERABLE THE CONDITIONS THERE WERE.

PEOPLE HAD FLUNG THEMSELVES OFF ROOFTOPS.

THEY WERE DYING IN THEIR ROOMS DUE TO LACK OF AIR-CONDITIONING.

THERE WAS A LOT OF MEDICAL PROCEDURES THAT PEOPLE DIDN'T NEED THAT THE OPERATORS WERE ABLE TO PROFIT FROM.

ALL OF THIS RESULTS IN A LAWSUIT FILED IN BROOKLYN FEDERAL COURT.

IT TOOK A LONG TIME FOR THE LITIGATION TO PLAY OUT, BUT ULTIMATELY THERE WAS A SETTLEMENT IN WHICH THESE PEOPLE WERE THEN OFFERED A CHANCE TO LIVE ON THEIR OWN IN WHAT'S CALLED SCATTERED SITE SUPPORTED HOUSING, WHICH IS BASICALLY A CHANCE FOR YOU TO LIVE INDEPENDENTLY THE SAME AS ANYONE ELSE WOULD IN AN APARTMENT WITH SOME SERVICES IN PLACE.

THE IDEA IS THAT YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE A WHOLE TEAM OF PROFESSIONALS EACH WITH THEIR OWN DISTINCT AREA OF EXPERTISE THAT'S GOING TO HELP YOU MAKE THIS ADJUSTMENT INTO INDEPENDENT LIVING.

WE FOUND THOSE SUPPORTS OFTEN FELL SHORT OF THE NEEDS OF THE PEOPLE WHO HAD MOVED.

AND IN A NUMBER OF CASES THERE WERE PEOPLE WHO HAD SUCH SEVERE MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES THAT IT WAS QUESTIONABLE AS TO WHETHER THEY SHOULD HAVE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO BEGIN WITH.

THAT SORT OF TIE INTO THE TITLE OF THE FILM ITSELF 'THE RIGHT TO FAIL.'

THAT SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN PART OF THE SETTLEMENT WAS THAT NOT ONLY DO PEOPLE HAVE THE RIGHT TO TRY AND LIVE ON THEIR OWN, BUT THEY DO HAVE THE RIGHT TO FAIL AT IT.

THE FILM MAKES CLEAR EXACTLY WHOSE FAULT THE FAILURES ARE.

RIGHT.

THROUGH THE SETTLEMENT IT WAS DETERMINED THESE PEOPLE HAD BEEN DEPRIVED OF THEIR CIVIL RIGHTS, SEGREGATED FROM THE REST OF SOCIETY AND FORCED TO LIVE IN GROUP HOMES THAT THEY DID NOT NECESSARILY HAVE TO LIVE IN AND THAT THEY HAD TO BE GIVEN THE CHANCE TO SUCCEED AND ALSO THE RIGHT TO FAIL ON THEIR OWN.

THAT'S WHAT THE TITLE COMES FROM, IS THIS CONCEPT.

YOU OFTEN HEAR IT DESCRIBED AS THE DIGNITY OF RISK.

OBVIOUSLY WITH PEOPLE AS COMPROMISED AS THESE FOLKS, THERE IS INHERENTLY GOING TO BE SOME RISK INVOLVED IN THEIR LIVING ON THEIR OWN, WHICH IS WHY YOU REALLY NEED A VERY STRONG SUPPORT SYSTEM INTACT TO MAKE SURE THEY SUCCEED.

SO TO SORT OF LAY BARE WHAT YOU WERE FINDING AS TO WHAT WAS GOING ON, THERE WERE SOME CASES THAT YOU FOLLOWED VERY CLOSELY.

ONE THAT SEEMED TO BE THE MOST ENGAGING WAS THAT OF A GENTLEMAN MR. BUNCH.

TELL US ABOUT HIM.

WE WERE TOLD ABOUT A PERSON NA NAMED NESTOR BUNCH.

HE HAD MOVED INTO A NUMBER OF APARTMENTS OVER THE COURSE OF ABOUT 15 OR SO MONTHS.

THE FIRST ONE, IT WAS HIS VERY FIRST APARTMENT LIVING ON HIS OWN.

THIS IS A PERSON WITH VERY SERIOUS SCHIZOPHRENIA, WHO HALLUCINATES, HEARS VOICES, WHO HAS NEVER BEFORE LIVED BY HIMSELF.

HE MOVED INTO THIS APARTMENT WHERE HE HAD TROUBLE KEEPING ENOUGH FOOD STOCKED IN HIS REFRIGERATOR, KEEPING UP WITH PAYING BILLS, THINGS LIKE THAT.

HE FELL INTO A PRETTY SERIOUS DEPRESSION.

HE BEGAN TO HAVE SUICIDAL THOUGHTS.

HE WAS HOSPITALIZED FOR THAT.

THE PEOPLE INVOLVED IN HIS CARE, THE SOCIAL SERVICE AGENCIES INVOLVED IN HIS CARE DECIDED THAT WHAT HE REALLY NEEDED WAS TO LIVE WITH A ROOMMATE.

SO THEY PAIRED HIM WITH A MAN NAMED BERNARD WALKER.

THAT PAIRING LASTED A MATTER OF WEEKS.

NESTOR DISCOVERED BERNARD NAKED AND DEAD DURING A BLIZZARD IN THE FOYER OF THEIR APARTMENT BUILDING OUT IN JAMAICA QUEENS.

NESTOR SORT OF SPIRALLED AGAIN.

HE WENT BACK INTO THE PSYCHIATRIC WARD, CAME OUT, MOVED IN WITH ANOTHER ROOMMATE.

THAT ROOMMATE FELT THAT HE WAS BEING ASKED TO TAKE CARE OF NESTOR AND HE WAS OVERWHELMED BY THAT ASSIGNMENT, WHICH HE DIDN'T FEEL HE DESERVED.

SO THEN NESTOR MOVED INTO ONE MORE APARTMENT.

THIS WAS OCCUPIED BY A PERSON WHO ALSO HAD SCHIZOPHRENIA, HAD A VERY SERIOUS ALCOHOL PROBLEM AND A HISTORY OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.

AS IT TURNS OUT, NESTOR WAS DISCOVERED IN THAT APARTMENT VERY SERIOUSLY INJURED.

HIS RIBS WERE BROKEN, HE HAD KIDNEY DAMAGE.

EVEN THEN THERE WAS AN EFFORT TO TRY TO KEEP HIM IN HIS OWN APARTMENT, IN INDEPENDENT HOUSING.

FINALLY, HE CAME OUT AND MOVED BACK INTO A GROUP HOME AND WAS DISCOVERED ON THE STREET AGAIN OUTSIDE OF A POLICE STATION WITH HYPOTHERMIA AND VERY SERIOUSLY DELUSIONAL AND WAS HOSPITALIZED.

NOW HE'S BACK IN INDEPENDENT HOUSING, BUT WITH MUCH MORE SERVICES IN PLACE.

HE'S ACTUALLY DOING QUITE WELL.

SO I GUESS THE QUESTION THEN BECOMES WHO IS REALLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THESE PEOPLE ONCE THEY'RE PUT INTO THESE SUBSIDIZED APARTMENTS?

IT SOUNDS LIKE NESTOR WAS VERY MUCH ON HIS OWN.

THAT'S AN POOIMPORTANT QUEST.

WE FOUND THAT RESPONSIBILITY WAS DIFFUSED ACROSS SO MANY ACTORS THAT THERE'S AMPLE SPACE FOR FINGER POINTING ALL OF THEM.

THERE'S ONE CONTRACTOR THAT'S RESPONSIBLE FOR HOUSING.

THERE'S ANOTHER RESPONSIBLE FOR MEDICAL SERVICES.

THERE'S OTHER PEOPLE WHO ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR PSYCHIATRIC CARE.

THESE APARTMENTS ARE NOT ACTUALLY LICENSED BY THE OFFICE OF MENTAL HEALTH, BUT THE OFFICE OF MENTAL HEALTH DOES HAVE SOME RESPONSIBILITY TO OVERSEE SOME OF THESE SOCIAL SERVICE AGENCIES.

THERE'S ALL OF THESE DIFFERENT ACTORS.

IT'S A DIZZYING ARRAY OF PEOPLE, WHO EACH ARE SUPPOSED TO BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR OWN CORNER OF THIS.

WHAT HAPPENS IS IT'S VERY UNCLEAR WHO ULTIMATELY IS ACCOUNTABLE WHEN SOMETHING LIKE THIS GOES TERRIBLY WRONG.

FIRST OF ALL, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR REPORTING, BECAUSE I THINK THIS IS A PROBLEM THAT WE TALK SO MUCH ABOUT MENTALLY ILL PEOPLE IN NEW YORK CITY AND HOW BEST TO TREAT THEM, ET CETERA, BUT THIS IS DEFINITELY SOMETHING THAT MOST PEOPLE, I'M SURE, DON'T KNOW ABOUT.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR REPORTING.

OF COURSE, WE WILL BE LOOKING TO SEE IF SOMETHING COMES OF HAVING THIS STORY NOW BROADCAST ON 'FRONTLINE'.

YOU'RE WELCOME.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

THANK YOU.

> FINALLY TONIGHT, IF YOU THINK EVERY SQUARE INCH OF NEW YORK IS OCCUPIED, WELL, WE'VE GOT SOME NEWS FOR YOU.

THERE'S AN UNINHABITED ISLAND IN THE EAST RIVER.

PHOTOGRAPHER CHRISTOPHER PAYNE GOT PERMISSION TO GO TO THE ISLAND IN 2008.

THE STORY BECAME HIS BOOK OF PHOTOGRAPHS 'NORTH BROTHER ISLAND, THE LAST UNKNOWN PLACE IN NEW YORK CITY'.

THERE'S REALLY NOTHING LIKE NORTH BROTHER ISLAND IN NEW YORK CITY.

IT'S A SECRET HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT.

IT'S AN UNINHABITED ISLAND OF RUINS IN NEW YORK CITY, THE LAST THING YOU WOULD EXPECT TO SEE.

NORTH BROTHER ISLAND HAS NOT BEEN INHABITED SINCE 1963, FOR OVER 50 YEARS.

THERE ARE 25 OR 26 STRUCTURES IN VARIOUS STATES OF DECAY.

FOR MUCH OF THE YEAR THE ISLAND IS COMPLETELY OVERGROWN BY VEGETATION.

IN 2008 I SUBMITTED A PROPOSAL.

I WOULD DOCUMENT ALL OF THE BUILDINGS AND CREATE KIND OF AN ARCHIVAL RECORD.

IN RETURN FOR THIS BODY OF WORK, I WAS ALLOWED FREE ACCESS.

WHEN YOU FIRST STEP ON THE ISLAND, YOU REALIZE THAT YOU ARE COMPLETELY ALONE.

IT'S ACTUALLY A VERY TRANSFORMATIVE EXPERIENCE.

ONE MINUTE YOU'RE IN THE CITY, YOU'RE AMONGST PEOPLE, YOU HEAR THE SIGHTS AND THE SOUND OF THE CITY.

THEN YOU GET ON A BOAT AND JUST BEING ON THE WATER BEING IN A SMALL ROW BOAT IS VERY TRA TRANSF TRANSFORMATIVE, MEDITATIVE EXPERIENCE.

YOU SEE THIS ISLAND GETTING CLOSER AND CLOSER.

IT BECOMES LESS AND LESS OF A MIRAGE AND IT BECOMES MORE REAL.

SUDDENLY YOU'RE ON IT, SURROUNDED BY ALL OF THESE ABANDONED BUILDINGS.

YOU WALK A FEW FEET AND YOU'VE COME INSIDE A FOREST OF TREES, A WONDERFUL CANOPY OF TREES.

YOU SEE THESE ANCIENT BUILDINGS KIND OF FALLING IN ON ONE ANOTHER.

IT'S LIKE A JUNGLE.

YOU BEGIN TO WONDER ABOUT WHAT THIS PLACE WAS LIKE.

FROM THE 1880s TO 1963 THOUSANDS CALLED THIS PLACE HOME.

IT WENT THROUGH MANY USES.

IT WAS USED AS A QUARANTINE HOSPITAL UP UNTIL WORLD WAR II.

AFTER THAT IT BECAME HOUSING FOR GIs AND THEIR FAMILIES.

FROM THE '50s TO 1963 IT WAS A DRUG TREATMENT CENTER FOR JUVENILE DELINQUENTS.

WHEN THEY WALKED AWAY FROM IT, THEY LITERALLY TURNED OUT THE HEIGHTS, SHUT OUT THE POWER, PROBABLY THINKING THEY WOULD USE IT AGAIN LIKE SO MANY OTHER TIMES.

IN MY RESEARCH I FOUND ALL OF THESE HISTORIC PHOTOS.

THEY SHOWED A TIDY CAMPUS WITH SIDEWALKS AND MANICURED LAWNS.

YOU NOTICE THE FIRE HYDRANTS IN THE IVY.

RIGHT BENEATH YOUR FEET WAS A ROAD.

THIS WHOLE FOREST THAT WAS SO ENCHANTING WAS ACTUALLY BUILT ON JUST A FEW INCHES OF DIRT.

IT'S NOT A PLACE WHERE YOU WANT TO RUN AROUND AND TAKE A MILLION SNAPSHOTS.

IT'S THE KIND OF PLACE THAT YOU WALK AROUND AND THINK AND RETURN TO OVER MANY SEASONS.

I WOULD SEE SOMETHING ONE SAND THINK ABOUT IT FOR THE ENTIRE YEAR AND RETURN THE NEXT SEASON TO TAKE THAT SHOT.

SO A LOT OF THE WORK GOES ON IN YOUR HEAD MONTHS BEFORE YOU EVEN TAKE THAT SHEET OF FILM.

IT IS AS IT IS AND I HOPE IT WILL REMAIN THAT.

IT'S JUST NICE TO KNOW THAT IN A CITY WHERE EVERYTHING IS ALWAYS CHANGING, NORTH BROTHER ISLAND IS KIND OF MOVING ALONG AT ITS OWN NATURAL PACE AND REVERTING TO SORT OF WHAT IT ONCE WAS.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND.

BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION AND BY -- JANET PRINDLE SEIDLER, JODY AND JOHN ARNHOLD, CHERYL AND PHILIP MILSTEIN FAMILY, JUDY AND JOSH WESTON, DR. ROBERT C. AND TINA SOHN FOUNDATION, PATTI ASKWITH KENNER.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, The Peter G. Peterson and Joan Ganz Cooney Fund, Bernard and Denise Schwartz, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, The Ambrose Monell Foundation, Janet Prindle Seidler, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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