Media Release
Media Release
Press Contact: Amy Moore, Mental Health Program Supervisor, (510) 981-5229

PROPOSED ACTIONS ON MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES ACT HOUSING DEVELOPMENT PROJECT IN BERKELEY

Berkeley, California (Tuesday, August 23, 2011) - The City of Berkeley is holding a 30-Day public review and comment period on the recommended actions outlined below regarding the proposed Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) Housing Development project.

Through the MHSA Housing Program Berkeley Mental Health (BMH) is working with the California Department of Mental Health (DMH) and the California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA) to develop permanent, affordable supportive housing for individuals or families  (who have a member) with severe mental illness or a serious emotional disturbance that are homeless or at risk of homelessness. BMH has $758,600 remaining MHSA Housing funds to invest in the creation of new housing opportunities that meet the requirements of the MHSA Housing Program.   

In order to access these funds, BMH must partner with a housing developer/owner and propose a particular housing project to DMH and CalHFA. The MHSA Housing Review Committee (a local advisory group on the MHSA Housing Program), and the BMH MHSA Advisory Committee, recommended moving forward with the rehab of a proposed Adult housing project with Resources for Community Development (RCD). The proposed project, University Avenue (UA) Homes located at 1040 University Avenue in Berkeley, is a housing development consisting of 74 subsidized Single Room Occupancy (SRO) units for individuals who are homeless. Initially constructed in 1926, the building is in need of targeted renovations. The proposed rehab will  provide upgrades to the buildings operating systems, improve energy efficiency, and renovate community meeting spaces and individual units to create a more supportive living environment. The proposed MHSA Housing funds will be leveraged with various other funding sources to support the renovations on this project and as such will create 7 dedicated units for adults that meet the MHSA housing program criteria. As part of the process of preparing the application, DMH and CalHFA require a 30-day public comment and review period on the proposed project.

In accordance with state guidelines, the 30-day public comment period for the UA Homes project will begin on Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011. BMH and the project developer would greatly appreciate your feedback and questions related to this project over the next month.  We will be accepting public comment on the project through Wednesday, September 21st, 2011. Comments that we receive will be utilized in developing our final project proposal for submission to DMH and CalHFA. 

Background
At the state level, a total of $115 million MHSA funds were set aside to be utilized for the MHSA Housing Program for the development of affordable housing for people with serious mental illnesses, who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness. The CalHFA administers the housing development funds and the state DMH will oversee the provision of services to tenants. Each mental health jurisdiction received a planning estimate for the amount of funds that would be available for development projects to be submitted through DMH and CalHFA. The City of Berkeley's planning estimate was $1,258,600. The State will only make these funds available for use through project-specific applications to CalHFA and the state Department of Mental Health.

For detailed information on how to review and provide feedback on the proposed housing development project, the public is invited to view the Mental Health Division website at www.cityofberkeley.info/mentalhealth and follow the link to the MHSA webpage.  A copy of the proposed project will also be available for review in the reference section of the Central Public Library located on 2090 Kittredge Street in downtown Berkeley.

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