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The original item was published from 6/9/2023 2:11:00 PM to 11/27/2023 12:07:05 AM.

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Community Mental Health - Millage News

Posted on: May 15, 2023

[ARCHIVED] Washtenaw County housing agencies expand services following millage funding project


In 2019, four local housing agencies were awarded a total of $1.2 million in funding from Washtenaw County’s Public Safety and Mental Health Preservation millage to increase supportive housing and services for youth and adults contending with mental health and substance abuse concerns.

Then, in 2023, the millage provided additional funding to the four agencies to continue services for three years.  

What did the agencies achieve with this funding? Quite a bit.  

Avalon adds staff to enhance supportive services across 25 properties

Avalon Housing, which provides supportive housing services to single adults, youth, and families, received $1.1 million from the millage to add staff to the agency’s supportive housing services team, which serves residents across Avalon’s 25 Washtenaw County properties, and to house residents.

Avalon hired four new staff members including two support coordinators, who provide housing-based case management services; one team leader, who provides clinical supervision and oversight; and one administrator, who oversees financial management and data collection.

In 2022 alone, Avalon provided supportive services to 529 individuals from 451 households. Services included affordable housing, case management, peer recovery support, in-home primary care, and community building. Avalon also provided real-time crisis intervention, in addition to assistance with substance use and mental health disorders. “People are still healing from the widespread detrimental impacts of social isolation, disengagement from services and supports, increased substance use, and unmet physical and behavioral health needs,” an Avalon staffer said. “The millage has been a steady source of financial support for our organization during such a critical period that has allowed us to carry on our work and meet the growing needs in our community.” 

Ozone House adds shelter beds, expands transitional living program 

Ozone House provides emergency shelter and support to youth ages 10-17 as well as long-term housing for young people ages 17-24.  Service offerings include case management, life skills training and therapy for young people and their families.

Ozone House received $720,000 in millage funds to support the agency’s transitional living program for 17-24 year-olds. The goal was to add four new beds and serve approximately 25 youth per year. 

Millage funding enabled Ozone House to hire additional staff to fill two positions: youth specialists, who provide supervision and direct care to youth-in-residence, and a Homeless to Housed case manager, who works with homeless young adults to help them secure safe and stable housing. 

Since millage funding became available, Ozone House has sheltered 94 young adults and provided supportive services, including case management, life-skills training, and therapy, to an additional 27 adults and 14 children.

Ozone House was able to meet their goal of increasing the number of beds at their Miller House Transitional Living Program from 6 to 10, which allows them to serve approximately 25 youth every year. Additionally, due to enhanced staffing and support, they are now able to increase the age range of young people eligible for the program from 21 to 24.

“The funding allows us to cover an age group that’s overlooked the most,” Erica Odum, Ozone House director of residential services, said. “There’s a notion that once someone is over 20, they’re supposed to have it together. Being able to support those who are learning how to become an adult has been very beneficial.” 

SAWC launches housing crisis stabilization program, hires crisis coordinator 

The Shelter Association of Washtenaw County (SAWC) provides emergency shelter and services to unhoused individuals in Washtenaw County. SAWC received $480,000 in millage funding for its housing crisis stabilization program. The goal was to add seven more shelter beds for clients in immediate need of housing, and to increase support services for these individuals — including medication management and creating individual service plans to stabilize clients after experiencing mental health crises.

SAWC was able to hire a crisis coordinator, Shannon Gilroy, using millage funding. Gilroy works with Washtenaw County’s Community Mental Health agency, which refers individuals to SAWC’s crisis stabilization program after experiencing a post acute health crisis. Gilroy then processes these referrals and coordinates client care with other health providers. Her other duties include case management and supporting SAWC staff and clients during mental health crises. SAWC also provided shelter to 23 participants since October 2021.

Ypsilanti Housing Commission secures housing vouchers, adds supportive staff 

The Ypsilanti Housing Commission provides affordable housing and partners with the Eastern Michigan University Family Empowerment Program (FEP) to provide resources and services to low-income families and individuals in Ypsilanti. They operate 342 housing units through their Deborah Strong Housing, Hamilton Crossing, and New Parkridge communities. The commission also obtained 86 new housing vouchers—23 designed to permanently house individuals and the other 63 designed to provide  temporary housing. With these vouchers, Ypsi Housing Commission has been able to house over 50 individuals. 

To ensure that new community members are able to stabilize and thrive at New Parkridge,  provide supportive services and resources to the newly housed individuals, the Ypsilanti Housing Commission partnered with the FEP to hire two staff, Christa Hughbanks and Melinda Miller, with millage funding. The millage-funded staff provide person-centered, strength-based care such as intensive case management and wraparound services, as well as mental health, educational, and wellness programming. 

Currently, 41 adult New Parkridge residents are engaged in ongoing case management services due to millage funding, while even more adults and children participate in community events, after school tutoring, activities, and community-wide programming the FEP facilitates.

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