East Orange residence for mentally ill may be forced to close

New details have emerged in the controversy surrounding a residence for the mentally ill in East Orange.Starting Thursday, Eden House will be fined up to $1,000 a day by the state health department until necessary improvements have been made. The owner says he cannot afford to pay the fines or make the improvements the state has ordered. Now, many wonder if the roughly 80 men and women who live in Eden House will have to be relocated. The State Health Commissioner Clifton Lacey says he hopes not. But he says Eden House could have its license revoked if it doesn't hire new security, a new housekeeping service, an exterminator and a building contractor. Last week, an inspection turned up what the commissioner calls "deplorable" conditions. But Eden House owner Hal Katz says the situation won't get better without more money from the state. The health commissioner says the state plans to hold meetings this fall to find ways to improve residential care for the mentally ill, which could include changing how they are funded.

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