MDOT has awarded $9.3 million in new grant money to four Maryland programs that will provide mental health and behavioral health care to low-income individuals.
The money is part of the state’s $3.6 billion Maryland Housing Development Fund, which includes money for affordable housing projects, and the $939,000 grant for a state-funded program to support people who are struggling with mental health issues.
“I think we are going to see a lot more in terms of people looking for help, and that’s great,” said Dr. Richard Schiller, director of the Mental Health Services Program for the Maryland Department of Mental Health and Development.
“It’s an important program that has been neglected,” said Anne-Marie Zalewski, a community mental health advocate for the Association of Maryland Community Mental Health Clinics.
The grant, which will be used to provide mental wellness and behavioral services, will provide 24 to 36 hours of training for mental health professionals and support staff to be trained to administer the program.
MDOT’s $2.3 billion Housing Development Trust Fund also includes funding for affordable units for people with mental illness, to provide counseling and referrals, and to train new mental health practitioners.
Maryland’s Housing Development Program was created in 2010 to help people with developmental disabilities get into housing.
In 2015, Maryland voters approved a referendum to make the program more robust.
The program has been praised for its ability to reduce homelessness, which has risen sharply in the state over the past decade, and has provided more than 100,000 new apartments for the state.
In April, Maryland’s General Assembly approved a bill to give the program $2 million a year.
It’s unclear if the state will spend any of that money on the program, or how it will be spent.
In the last fiscal year, MDOT awarded $7.2 million in housing vouchers to more than 2,000 people, including a $2,200 grant to help them get an apartment.
The Maryland Housing Trust Fund, an operating fund, also received a $5.4 million grant from MDOT to expand access to services for people living with disabilities and to help the state transition to a new housing model.
The state’s Office of the Inspector General also received $500,000 in state funds to hire and train psychologists, social workers and other staff.
MDot’s housing division also received another $1 million for housing counselors, who are trained to offer behavioral health services to low income residents.
The new grants, which are expected to be announced this summer, are part of a $10 million Housing Investment Fund, a $1.5 billion Housing Partnership Fund and $500 million in additional funding to provide affordable housing.
The program will also provide services to people living in transitional housing units, which typically have limited resources.
In January, the Maryland Housing Partnership and MDOT announced a partnership to create a statewide list of “low-income living spaces,” which will include rental apartments, co-ops and low-cost units.
MDOC hopes to identify these units in the next two to three years, according to an MDOT press release.
“The Maryland Initiative for Housing will give residents with housing problems a place to live, and we look forward to working with these organizations to find new, low-priced housing options,” said MDOT director of housing programs, Mark G. Taggart.