For Immediate Release
Press Contact: Fred Medrano, Health Department Director, (510) 981-5100

CITY OF BERKELEY MHSA RECOMMENDED ACTIONS ON HOUSING DEVELOPMENT

Berkeley, California (Monday, August 03, 2009) - The City of Berkeley is holding a 30-Day public review period on the recommended actions outlined below regarding the proposed Mental Health Services Act Housing Development project.

Berkeley Mental Health (BMH) is working with the California Department of Mental Health (DMH) and the California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA) to develop more permanent, affordable supportive housing for individuals or families (who have a member) with serious mental illness or a serious emotional disturbance that are homeless or at risk of homelessness. BMH has over $1.2 million to invest in the creation of new housing opportunities through the Mental Health Services Act (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, recommended moving forward with a proposed transition age youth (TAY) housing project in partnership with Affordable Housing Associates (AHA). The proposed project is Harmon Gardens, a 16-unit apartment building located at 3240 Sacramento Street in Berkeley. The project will have 10 studio apartments set aside for transition age youth  that meet the MHSA housing program criteria. As part of the process of preparing the application for this project, 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 Harmon Gardens project will begin on Tuesday August 4th, 2009. 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 2nd, 2009. 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 in MHSA funds will be set aside annually in 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 will administer 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 is $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 MHSA website at www.cityofberkeley.info/mentalhealth. 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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