Cascadia builds needed housing for mentally ill

From The Portland Business Journal, December 31, 2003

Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare will soon break ground on two adjacent apartment buildings that will provide low income housing for individuals with psychiatric disabilities.

“What we have learned is that until we can provide stable and safe housing for people with psychiatric disabilities, there is really no hope for psychiatric stability,” said Neal Beroz, vice president of housing for Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare.

A recent report released by the regional task force, the Housing and Community Development Commission, estimated 1,683 additional units are needed in the Portland area for individuals with persistent mental illness.

Construction on the $5.3 million, 39,000-square foot Midland Commons project will begin Jan. 14. It will be located at 2830 SE 127th Ave. in Portland.

Tenants will live independently, with some assistance available. Most units will be occupied by single individuals, but some may be rented by couples with small families. About 52 individuals will live in the 46 rental units. One two-bedroom unit in each building will be designated for an on-site apartment manager.

The contractor for the job is Seabold Construction, and the architect was William Wilson.

The first tenants will likely be able to move in at the end of November in 2004, Beroz said.

Prospective tenants will be referred by case managers, hospital discharge planners, family, friends and through self-referral. Cascadia’s Occupancy Specialist will determine eligibility through income verification, a review of rental history and legal history.

Nonprofit Cascadia, which serves 21,000 low-income clients with mental health or addiction treatment needs, logged $38 million in revenues in 2002 and has 60 treatment sites in the Columbia-Willamette region. It is based in Portland, and is the primary provider for Oregon Health Plan patients. It currently manages 620 housing units for the mentally ill.

The project will be funded with help from a low-income housing tax credit of about $3 million, a Multnomah County grant of $167,000, a Portland Development Commission Equity Gap Loan of $1.1 million, a permanent loan of $800,000 from the Network for Oregon Affordable Housing, and other sources.