The Institute for Community Living's visionary President and CEO, Dr. Peter C. Campanelli, had the inspiration for ICL in the mid-'80s while writing his doctoral dissertation on recidivism for people with serious mental illness. Patients would find themselves in a revolving door, receiving in-hospital treatment for five to six weeks, becoming stabilized and being discharged. Shortly thereafter, they would find themselves returning to the hospital, due to an inability to live independently. At the time, few organizations offered community service. Dr. Campanelli's dissertation envisioned residences situated within the community that would provide much needed case management services. Seeing a need, he founded ICL in 1986. ICL immediately assumed operations of a 150-bed residential program in downtown Brooklyn, now known as ICL Stepping Stone Residence, which provided housing and services to adults with serious mental illness. In its initial six years, ICL worked exclusively in Brooklyn, developing community residences and supported apartments for adults with serious mental illness. Over its 20-plus year history, ICL has gone on to develop residences and apartment programs that house 1,400 men, women and children in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx and Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.
Through support from the NY/NY Program to House Homeless Adults, ICL was a pioneer in its early years, creating some of the first residential programs in the country for people who were homeless with co-occurring serious mental illness and addiction disorders. In 1994, ICL again broke new ground, opening the first residence in the country, ICL Emerson-Davis Family Development Center, designed to reunify homeless mothers living with serious mental illness who had been separated from their children. This program has won numerous awards from the American Psychiatric Association and others.
In 1993, ICL created its first residence for people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities and has developed nine residential programs for this population. ICL has since opened multiple mental health clinics, assumed the operation of a shelter for homeless women and a short-stay residence for homeless veterans, started vocational and employment programs, and much more.
Its subsidiary, ICL Healthcare Choices, was opened in 2001 as a health clinic to provide medical, dental and psychiatric care to special needs populations with extraordinary health care needs and limited service access. Today, HealthCare Choices serves over 1,000 people annually in Brooklyn, with a host of specialty services and a caring, skilled staff. More recently, ICL is once again at the forefront of innovation and saving lives. It has created, piloted and is now implementing disease management and wellness/self management programs aimed at improving the health status of people with behavioral disorders, who die on average 25 years sooner than the general population from the same illnesses.
Today, ICL's network of services reflects Dr. Campanelli's vision in action – helping people with serious behavioral challenges and histories of homelessness, addiction and poverty lead stable and productive lives in communities throughout New York City and Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.