JAMHI to build housing for patients

Posted: Friday, April 25, 2003

Construction should begin near Salmon Creek by fall on two eight-plex apartments for mental health patients, officials with the Juneau Alliance for Mental Health Inc. announced.

The nonprofit group, known as JAMHI, received an allowable-use permit this week to construct two 4,000 square-foot buildings behind the JAMHI service center on Glacier Highway, according to a Community Development Department staff report.

Each facility will house eight clients who need limited supervision and assistance, said Pat Murphy, clinical director for JAMHI.

"Residents would be those with mental or developmental disabilities," Murphy said. "The apartments will be right behind our offices, so that staff can offer support such as helping them with shopping, cleaning or making appointments or getting through the bureaucracy of Section 8 housing or Medicaid paperwork and clinical help.

"Our goal is not to interfere with their lives but to offer support when they need it."

The project is expected to cost $1.3 million and was funded by two special needs housing grants through the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, Murphy said.

Despite JAMHI's existing living facilities, which include three apartment buildings that house about 30 total people and a five-bed respite crisis center, it still has a waiting list of patients that need housing.

"The housing need for people with disabilities is great in Juneau," said Murphy. "Just like you or I, they are more successful - keeping a job, maintaining appointments - if they have permanent housing."

Residents often pay rent through government subsidies such as Medicaid and Section 8 housing. Section 8 allows a person to pay a third of his or her income toward rent, Murphy said. He also said even if a patient does not qualify for either subsidy, JAMHI uses the same sliding pay scale.

According to the CDD staff report, residents north of the proposed facility did not object to the apartments, but asked developers to maintain the existing tree buffer between the facilities and the neighborhood.

• Melanie Plenda can be reached at mplenda@juneauempire.com.

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