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This spring, Washtenaw County Community Mental Health asked the Washtenaw Office of Community and Economic Development (OCED) to develop a request for proposals process designed to increase supportive housing services across Washtenaw County. We are pleased to announce that the resulting RFP was approved by the Millage Advisory Committee at its October meeting and that organizations are now encouraged to submit proposals prior to the December 20 deadline.
The Millage Advisory Committee plans to award $300,000 to $400,000 per year, over the next three years, to provide supportive housing services for homeless or housing-insecure individuals with mental health and substance use disorders. Supportive housing is affordable housing, but with services that help individuals with complex challenges live with stability, autonomy, and dignity. Positive outcomes often include improved employment, mental and physical health, recovery from substance use disorder, and school attendance.
The RFP, says Morghan Williams, human services manager at OCED, is designed to bridge critical community housing gaps for individuals--adults and youth--with mental health and substance use disorders.
On the adult side, the RFP targets two gaps in our homelessness response system, says Williams. First, there are long wait times for supportive housing units across the county. So the RFP can be used to support short-term housing options--up to 90 days--for individuals in crisis. This will give folks a place to stay until a long-term housing unit becomes available.
Second, while federal funding is available for supportive housing units, organizations need to provide accompanying supportive services--like case management, counseling, group therapy, and more--to qualify for those funds. So the RFP can be used to develop innovative new services.
On the youth side, says Williams, there are other gaps.
Most of the homelessness youth experience is not considered homeless by HUD standards, says Williams. HUD prioritizes funding for veterans and others who are chronically homeless, have a documented disability, and have no place to go. But youth often show up as couch surfing--they might have a place to stay, but it’s not consistent and it’s not necessarily stable. So the RFP can be used to help youth secure a stable place to live and access both short- and long-term supportive services.
The Washtenaw Office of Community and Economic Development will lead the RFP process for the community. Proposals will be reviewed by a committee that includes members of the Funding Review Committee of the Washtenaw County Continuum of Care, Washtenaw Housing Alliance, Washtenaw Office of Community and Economic Development, Washtenaw County Community Mental Health, and the community at large. Recommendations for funding will then be brought to the Community Mental Health Board, Board of Commissioners, and Millage Advisory Committee.