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Associated Press

RALEIGH, NC (AP) — North Carolina health officials and federal attorneys have reached an agreement that could move thousands of residents in adult care homes with serious mental illness into community housing.

State Health and Human Services Secretary Al Delia and US Justice Department lawyers signed the deal Thursday that will avoid litigation, at least for now. The Justice Department filed a complaint last year alleging the state was violating federal law because too many mentally ill residents were living in the homes.

The agreement is largely identical to a plan offered by the state last month that could cost nearly $300 million over eight years. Displaced residents also would get help with rent, job training and potential employment.

The two sides chose an independent evaluator to ensure the state follows the agreement.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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