My brother lived at El Rey residential-treatment facility for many years until he died a year ago. Luckily, he died before the El Rey closed because I have no doubt he would have ended up on the streets.

The El Rey was a shabby but critical facility that offered shelter and a modicum of treatment and support for its residents. How can King County allow its closure without ensuring an equivalent number of beds to replace those lost? The decentralized system of private, not-for-profit facilities managed by entities like Sound Health working with King County and the Department of Health and Human Services to place mentally ill people doesn’t work. This is because no one is ultimately in charge and accountable for the welfare of the person. They just each do their bit and then shrug their shoulders when people fall through the cracks.

Washington state’s effort to end civil commitment at state psychiatric hospitals and rely on community-based care is a fiction and a failure because the state does not guarantee that community-based care will be available. It’s a perfect system for passing the buck.

Christine Psyk, Seattle