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TMHA begins construction of Sunny Acres affordable housing complex 

After six years Transitions Mental Health Association (TMHA) and the Housing Authority of San Luis Obispo (HASLO) will celebrate the beginning stages of construction on the Bishop Street Studios affordable housing project on May 31.

click to enlarge FUTURE HOMES After about six years, the Transitions-Mental Health Association is finally breaking ground on construction of its affordable housing for individuals with mental illness. - PHOTO COURTESY OF TRANSITIONS-MENTAL HEALTH ASSOCIATION
  • Photo Courtesy Of Transitions-Mental Health Association
  • FUTURE HOMES After about six years, the Transitions-Mental Health Association is finally breaking ground on construction of its affordable housing for individuals with mental illness.

TMHA Executive Director Jill Bolster-White said construction began on April 2 and the land surrounding the 1931 building—formerly known as Sunny Acres Orphanage—was graded to make way for renovation and three additional buildings.

The nonprofit is working in collaboration with the HASLO on the 34 one-person units of affordable housing for adults living with mental illness. Aside from the location's scenic views, it's also close to health and transportation services for prospective residents.

"Just right down from the project there is the Behavioral Health Department, the Public Health Department, there are doctors on one side, and a bus line to get into town. It has all sorts of things nearby, so it's really an ideal location," Bolster-White said.

In 2016, the project was met with opposition from neighbors during a San Luis Obispo City Council meeting. Community members Ray Righetti and Lanny Hernandez appealed the SLO Planning Commission's approval of the project. Their concerns were the project's cost, the type of supportive housing, and the individuals who would be housed in the program. Bolster-White said she spoke with the neighbors who reached out to her and hasn't heard any rebuttals to the project since.

"I think people understand that this is a needed resource. I think there are also a number of people who are excited to get that building restored. I think just with all the attention of mental health happening nationwide and locally, it's really important for people to understand the best case scenario is stable housing and supportive mental health services," she said.

The housing will also include an on-site resident manager to monitor the property, act as property manager with regard to repairs and maintenance, and be available for resident needs.

The affordable housing project is designed for people who have an open case with the county Behavioral Health Department, Bolster-White said. Prospective residents must be at least 18 years of age and have the skills to live independently. Residents must also agree not to use illegal substances and abide by state and local laws, as well as the terms of the TMHA residency agreement.

"It's a great repurposing of a pretty beautiful community asset for a really needed public benefit," she said.

The May 31 celebration is a thank-you for donors, community members, and officials who helped bring the project to life. TMHA is slated to have a larger community celebration when construction is complete in the fall of 2019. Δ

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