March 23, 2020

Willow Terrace Provides Housing and Services for Individuals With Severe Mental Health Challenges in Ukiah, California

Image of a multifamily apartment building.Willow Terrace adds 37 units of affordable housing and services for individuals with severe mental health challenges who were or were at risk of experiencing homelessness in Ukiah, California. Credit: Stan Shoptaugh, courtesy of Pacific Builders

In rural California, cities such as Ukiah in Mendocino County that already contend with housing shortages have also been battling successive wildfires since 2015, which have further eroded the housing supply. Brad McDonald, chief executive officer of Rural Communities Housing Development Corporation (RCHDC), says that although the housing inventory is low for all for sectors of the county, “it is exceptionally low for the most disenfranchised population.” Mendocino County has a population of approximately 87,500, a median household income of $49,233, and a poverty rate of 18.5 percent. The city also has higher percentages of the population experiencing cognitive difficulty (6%) and independent living difficulty (8%) than does the nation as a whole (5.1% and 5.8%, respectively). McDonald reports that the county has numerous individuals with mental health challenges who are, or are at risk of, experiencing homelessness. In 2016, RCHDC began working with Mendocino County to develop housing to address a portion of this acute need, which ultimately resulted in the Willow Terrace Apartments.

Willow Terrace Apartments

Opened in 2019, Willow Terrace consists of 38 apartments — 26 single-resident occupancy units, 11 one-bedroom units, and a manager’s unit — in a two-story, L-shaped building. All the units are compliant with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act or can be adapted to comply. All residents have access to a full-service kitchen and community laundry facilities. A second building offers a community space. The development also has three offices for providing onsite resident services. The development uses photovoltaic panels and energy-efficient design and materials to achieve net-zero energy use, lowering operating costs for the property and relieving tenants of the need to pay for utilities, which makes the property more affordable.

Development costs were met through various sources. Although traditional state health services funding supports only services, a provision of the California Mental Health Services Act created a source for $1,336,000 in “seed money” that could fund housing construction. RCHDC worked with Community First Credit Union, a community development financial institution, to secure $1,267,500 in Affordable Housing Program funds from the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco. The bulk of the project’s financing came from a mix of federal and state low-income housing tax credits (LIHTCs) totaling $8,892,375. RCHDC partnered with Enterprise Housing Credit Investments to complete the LIHTC deals. RCHDC also contributed the land for the project at a substantial discount. The property previously had been the site of a vacant office building and a small cottage, the resident of which moved to an RCHDC apartment community before the buildings were demolished for redevelopment..

Image of a kitchen including a sink, microwave, oven and range, and cabinets adjacent to sliding glass doors that open to a balcony.Willow Terrace relies on strong partnerships with local service providers to give residents the wraparound services that they need. Credit: Stan Shoptaugh, courtesy of Pacific Builders

Serving Individuals With Severe Mental Health Challenges

Willow Terrace provides residents with safe, stable, and affordable housing as well as individualized wraparound services. The project targets individuals who have experienced or are at risk of experiencing homelessness, have severe mental health challenges, and earn no more than 30 percent of the area median income. Mendocino County Health and Human Services/Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, Redwood Community Services (RCS), Manzanita Services, and the Mendocino County AIDS/Viral Hepatitis Network are partners who offer onsite services. In addition to providing behavioral and mental health services, RCS offers residents job coaching and transportation and coordinates community events. Willow Terrace uses a coordinated entry system to fill vacant units, giving priority to those with the highest score on the Vulnerability Index-Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool who meet the Full-Service Partnership definition for the community.

Challenges and Lessons

The Willow Terrace project faced some opposition in early community meetings, but RCHDC presented a persuasive case that won over many critics. RCHDC marshalled evidence from other locations that had provided housing for individuals experiencing homelessness and then enjoyed fiscal benefits as the use of public services decreased. RCHDC pointed out that building Willow Terrace would reduce the burden on first responders (fire, police, and ambulance services), hospitals, and other local businesses. McDonald attributes RCHDC’s ability to overcome this and other challenges to its strong partnerships with local supportive service organizations and the local government. Through these partnerships, RCHDC put together a solid funding plan to build Willow Terrace and offer its residents the individualized care that they need.

Source:

Rural Communities Housing Development Corporation. n.d. “37 Affordable Apartment Homes with Supportive Services Open in Ukiah.” Accessed 25 February 2020; Email correspondence with Brad McDonald, chief executive officer of Rural Communities Housing Development Corporation, 19 February 2020; U.S. Census Bureau. n.d. “Mendocino County, California.” Accessed 26 February 2020; U.S. Census Bureau. n.d. “United States of America.” Accessed 26 February 2020.

×

Source:

Rural Communities Housing Development Corporation. n.d. “37 Affordable Apartment Homes with Supportive Services Open in Ukiah.” Accessed 25 February 2020; Email correspondence with Brad McDonald, chief executive officer of Rural Communities Housing Development Corporation, 19 February 2020; Christine Serlin. 2019. “Low-Income Individuals With a Mental Illness Find New Home in Ukiah, Calif.” Affordable Housing Finance, 14 May.

×

Source:

Rural Communities Housing Development Corporation. n.d. “37 Affordable Apartment Homes with Supportive Services Open in Ukiah.” Accessed 25 February 2020; Email correspondence with Brad McDonald, chief executive officer of Rural Communities Housing Development Corporation, 19 February 2020.

×

Source:

Rural Communities Housing Development Corporation. n.d. “37 Affordable Apartment Homes with Supportive Services Open in Ukiah.” Accessed 25 February 2020; Email correspondence with Brad McDonald, chief executive officer of Rural Communities Housing Development Corporation, 19 February 2020; Enterprise Community Partners. 2019. “Celebrating the Grand Opening of Willow Terrace in Ukiah, California,” blog, 30 April. Accessed 26 February 2020; California Office of the State Treasurer. 2017. “California Tax Credit Allocation Committee: Project Staff Report — 2017 Second Round,”20 September. Accessed 9 March 2020.

×

Source:

Email correspondence with Brad McDonald, chief executive officer of Rural Communities Housing Development Corporation, 19 February 2020.

×
 
 
Home Page Archives

           

Dialog

Is this an answer?