Re: “A Belltown residential treatment facility shutters, leaving a hole in King County’s mental health system” [Oct. 11, Local News]:
Back in the 1970s, I was familiar with the El Rey building in Belltown when it was home to a variety of low-income renters who were typical of many such downtown dwellers of that time. A modest income from working-class employment or a monthly check from Social Security provided enough to cover rent and other living expenses.
Later, I recall when leadership at Community Psychiatric Clinic embarked on a project to refurbish the building and establish a residential treatment center for the mentally ill. That undertaking took quite a bit of time, but eventually the doors opened and the El Rey became a site for the shelter and care of a limited number of the psychiatrically impaired.
The loss of the El Rey is indeed significant and emblematic of the ongoing disarray and inadequacy of the mental-health system. For too long, too many seriously disabled people have been relegated to jails, chaotic shelters and perilous streets with little or no comprehensive or consistent treatment. In the absence of a thoroughly funded, intelligent and systematic plan to alleviate the ongoing suffering, it seems that this tragedy will continue unabated for some time to come.
Joe Martin, Seattle