Housing for the Mentally Ill

Last week, a Santa Barbara apartment community, The Garden Center, opened to 38 new residents. The apartments were specifically designed to combat homelessness through housing and mental health care all at once.
December 19, 2008, 6am PST | Judy Chang
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"Designed by Jan Hochhauser of Santa Barbara's Hochhauser Blatter, the center happens to be directly across the street from the city's planning department, which ensured the project met Santa Barbara's rigid historical district design policies. It has the city's classic stucco and red-tile roofs but also features beautifully designed, light-filled living spaces that don't feel institutional.

'The idea is we're creating neighborhoods,' Hochhauser said. 'That you're not finding your way to your living space down some dismal corridor. That we've got these courtyard neighborhoods. Also there's the concept of defensible space in housing design, where there is a community space for access and circulation that provides protection and oversight. Also that the apartments get good sunlight, that they have some vegetation, that they're generally uplifting.'

The project took more than eight years to complete from concept to move-in day. There were more than 300 applicants for the 38 apartments set aside for those with mental illness. Applicants had to meet a certain income level and, in addition to having some kind of mental illness, had to show they could live independently. The work force apartments will rent for about 60 percent of market. All of the apartments for the mentally ill will be available through federal Section 8 funding."

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Published on Friday, December 12, 2008 in Miller-McCune
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