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MHSA Housing Program

Mental Health Services Act (MHSA)


Background

The MHSA Housing Program component of the Act was signed into law in May 2006 with the stated goal of creating 10,000 additional units of permanent supportive housing for a specifically defined population of mental health consumers in California. This is a collaborative program administered by the California Housing Finance Agency and the State Department of Mental Health. Developed in collaboration with the California Mental Health Directors Association and other stakeholders, this program is anticipated to receive MHSA funding for the next 20 years--if successful. Funding and program requirements were released in August 2007, and applications to the state are now being accepted. This program provides funding for permanent housing to individuals who are eligible for MHSA services and meet eligibility criteria as homeless or "at risk" of becoming homeless. Counties are required to provide ongoing support services.

What kind of housing can be built?

Funds can be used to build or renovate rental housing or shared housing. Rental housing developments are apartment complexes with five or more units, where each person or household has his/her own apartment. In shared housing, each resident has a lockable bedroom in a house or apartment that is shared with other housemates.

The housing must also be permanent supportive housing, which means that the housing is linked with supportive services. Tenants are required to sign a lease or rental agreement and pay rent on a monthly basis. The services, which are located at or near the housing, are designed to assist tenants to maintain their housing and to support the residents' ability to live independently.

Who is eligible for the housing?

The housing is available to adults who are seriously mentally ill and children with severe emotional disorders and their families. In order to qualify, a household must also be homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, as defined by the MHSA regulations. The household must be able to afford to pay rent, and the household income must be less than a specified maximum amount, which ranges from about $30,000 annually for one person to $43,000 for a family of four.

How will supportive housing projects be selected for funding in Contra Costa County?

During 2008 Contra Costa County will begin to implement the MHSA Housing Program. Contra Costa Mental Health initiated a partnership with the Contra Costa Community Development Department to plan and carry out the MHSA Housing program in Contra Costa County. The county has an initial 3-4 year funding distribution of $9,130,800, of which a maximum of $3,043,600 can be used for operating subsidies. The remainder of the funding must be used for new construction/renovation of permanent housing. Following a stakeholder input process, the County will develop and distribute a Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA) for nonprofit housing developers wishing to partner with the county in developing housing projects over the next 1-2 years. Developers seeking funds will be required to complete the State Application form in addition to responding to County requirements. The tenant selection and service plans from each application will be posted for a required thirty-day public review and comment period. Once approved locally, one or more project applications will be submitted to the State for review and approval. Given the length of time required to acquire and/or construct or renovate housing it is anticipated that it will be a minimum of 18 months until any new housing is ready for leasing in Contra Costa.

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