Mono County Supervisors pass ordinance allowing CAO to take steps to create housing for homeless, mentally ill
Mono County Behavioral Health (MCBH) is developing a new plan to offer housing to people without it, particularly to the mentally ill. Previously, MCBH planned to refurbish the dilapidated Davison House, the only transitional and permanent supportive housing in Mono County, which has sat empty (on Davison Street in Mammoth)for five years. However, that building would cost more to fix than building a new structure, according to MCBH Director Robin Roberts.
“To renovate it would be out of our price range [many millions], and it would invoke a variety of permitting issues that may make it impossible,” Roberts explained. The well-worn building was damaged even more by last winter’s heavy snow. Other options include razing the building at 71 Davison and constructing new digs, but that would not be cost-efficient either, she added.
A MCBH housing committee could recommend selling the property, given approval from the Board of Supervisors, and that money—funds which were originally earmarked for housing—could go towards a new facility.
Mono County Supervisors passed an ordinance on Tuesday, November 7 allowing the County Administrative Officer to “perform any and all necessary acts” to acquire and purchase land that may be a suitable property for the housing facility. Roberts said the ordinance would speed up the process of buying land or a building, given the fast and competitive nature of the Mammoth Lakes real estate market.
Roberts told The Sheet in an email that the supervisors will make the final decision for the Davison House. MCBH and its Housing Committee are still exploring options and should make recommendations to the supervisors in December or January.
Unfortunately, a house can’t be built just anywhere. Permanent Supportive Housing needs to be close to treatment facilities, medical care, schools and job training. “It is based on the principle that all people do better when they have a sense of purpose and hope,” Roberts said.
Many people with mental illness do not own cars, so Mammoth is the most viable location. “While for some people with severe mental illness the issue is functioning in our bigger world and society, poverty is the issue for all of the folks that we serve who also have these concerns.”
Residents of the facility would include the area’s homeless community and those with mental illness. “Housing those with mental illness is our mission; nearly all who are currently homeless have a severe mental illness.”
Roberts said the days of “we don’t have homeless here because of the winter” are over. It’s hard to determine how many homeless people there are in the county (and country) because the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Point-In-Time homeless count occurs in one day in January.
There is no gathering center for local homeless people in Mono County. They could be dug in for the winter in the woods or couch surfing, and don’t get included in the count.