Hepburn, of MHA, did not respond to multiple requests for comment on that unofficial moratorium.
He did say cuts to state psychiatric beds since 2003 have resulted in more community-based housing options, including 12 new RRP positions opened with the closure of the Upper Shore Community Health Center in Chestertown last year.
A total of 4,000 people received RRP services in the state in 2010, compared to 2,600 in 2003, he said.
Still, it is true that funding cuts at state institutions don't necessarily amount to dollar-for-dollar increases for community programs, he said.
In 2009, the National Alliance on Mental Illness compiled a report called "Grading the States," in which it evaluated mental health services across the country and gave each state a letter grade between "A" and "F."
No state received an "A," and the nation as a whole received a "D." Maryland was one of only six states to receive a "B," making it one of the country's best in dealing with mental illness, according to the alliance's evaluations.
But when affordability of housing for people with disabilities is considered alone, Maryland drops from the top of the class to the bottom, according to the national "Priced Out in 2010" study conducted by the Technical Assistance Collaborative and the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Housing Task Force.
The study directly compares federal Supplemental Security Income payments, which are received by people with severe mental and physical disabilities and used for housing, to "fair market rents" for one-bedroom apartments in markets around the country, as calculated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Only Hawaii andWashington, D.C., were less affordable than Maryland, where a one-bedroom apartment costs 164 percent of a person's $674 monthly SSI payment in 2010, the study found.
Among all HUD-defined rental markets in the country, only 30 had average rents for one-bedroom apartments that cost more than 150 percent of a person's monthly SSI payment. In the "Baltimore-Towson" market, which includes Catonsville and Arbutus, the average rent was 156 percent of SSI.
Overall, the state has a long way to go in shaping a mental health system and housing plan to meet the needs of the mentally ill population, said advocates and mentally ill residents.
Namely, there is a need for independent living units subsidized in some way that provide "wrap-around" treatment and therapy services while allowing tenants to retain their independence and privacy, advocates said.
Reed agreed that independent living quarters are needed and desired by people with mental illnesses like his.
While he greatly appreciated the support he's received in the past from the Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center in Columbia, life in a shelter is difficult, he said.
"You feel like you're being trampled on by people coming and going," he said. "You just felt like you were on display."
Through the years, the search for housing has made him feel like "a chicken with my head cut off," he said — a feeling made worse by the misunderstanding and stigma attached to his illness, especially among bosses and co-workers at the various jobs he's tried to hold down.
"I'm not in a wheelchair, they see 10 fingers, 10 toes, and they think I can work," he said. "But the psychosocial aspects have been too much."
His medicine is sedating. If he works too many hours, his disability income may be cut off. And his less-than-clean criminal record doesn't help.
"I'm struggling to get by," he said. "I've tried to do odd jobs, but I'm not making much headway."