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Davis Journal

Legislature gave $8 million in funding for Davis Behavioral Health 60-unit apartment building

Mar 28, 2024 08:05AM ● By Becky Ginos
LAYTON—With homelessness on the rise, the county has been looking for ways to help those individuals in need of housing. In the 2024 session, legislators gave more than $8 million in funding to Davis Behavioral Health for a new 60-unit apartment building that would give those with mental illness or substance abuse an affordable place to live while receiving the services they need to be successful.

“It’s specifically for those with mental illness or substance abuse disorder,” said CFO Ryan Westergard. “This subset has a difficult time finding housing on their own.”

A lot of them have broken ties with family, he said. “They love them but can’t have them live under their roof. Especially with the increase in rent, it’s putting a squeeze on people to know where to live.”

Many of these people would end up homeless in Davis County, said Westergard. “This facility will help bring homelessness down to a lower level.”

Davis Behavioral Health has 140 apartments owned and leased in the community by them, he said. “We want to expand that housing.”

Westergard said the plan is to build the new facility, near the current Davis Behavioral Health building at the south end of Layton. “We’ve spoken with the city and they’re supportive. We have to go through the process of zoning to determine where it will be located.”

The estimated cost of the project is about $13 million - $15 million, he said. “Hopefully in the next couple of months we’ll pin it down to what the cost will be.”

Davis Behavioral Health applied for deeply affordable housing and was awarded $4.7 million, said Westergard. “Between that and the legislative funding it gets us pretty close to $13 million. That helps to get the infrastructure built then find funding to get us the rest of the way. I think we can do it. We’re excited to have this much funding fall into place.”

The legislature has been setting aside money for the last couple of years for affordable housing, he said. “Rent can’t be more than 30% of the area median. It incentivizes builders to build affordable housing for low income folks. It’s to keep rent down for truly affordable housing.”

There are a couple of similar projects in Colorado, said Westergard. “They are staffed 24/7 and have a controlled entrance. They check people in and out and ask residents if they want visitors.”
It’s trauma informed by design, he said. “For people with mental illness some have a trauma in their history. We want to avoid any triggers to that trauma.”

Westergard said a housing committee reviews applicants. “At Davis Behavioral we can refer clients to the committee and then they review those in need. There is a wait list. We’re not able to house everyone. We’ll pull from that list when we get the new building up and running.”

Once they get a contractor and architect on board they’ll have a better idea of how long it will take, he said. “We hope late this year we can break ground and get started. It’s the first big project we’ve undertaken in 20 years. The housing unit was built 10 years ago but this is a much larger project. It will probably take 14-15 months to complete.”

Westergard said they’ve received a lot of support for the project. “A lot of people have gotten behind it and are making it their number one priority this year.”

The school district has been a great partner, he said. “We’ve worked closely with Jodi Lunt from the Davis Education Foundation. She’s excited to see it happen. It’s really gained momentum.”
It will have great resources that are centralized, said Westergard. “We need this in our county to provide wrap-around services to individuals in need so they can be successful.”