Recognized for working to fight chronic homelessness and mental illness
FRONTENAC, MO – November 12, 2010 – (RealEstateRama) — State Treasurer Clint Zweifel (ZWY-ful) has been chosen to receive the Outstanding Legislator Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness – St. Louis. Treasurer Zweifel will receive the award at 9 p.m on Saturday, November 13 at the Hilton St. Louis Frontenac Hotel. The award recognizes his efforts to create specialized housing through the state’s housing agency targeted specifically at Missourians suffering from mental illness and chronic homelessness.
“I am truly humbled to be recognized for something that I see as a duty of my position – representing, advocating and implementing ideas that, in a fiscally sound manner, provide a safe and stable home for all Missourians,” Treasurer Zweifel said. “For too long, individuals suffering from mental illness who are homeless have been overlooked and left to exist on park benches or roadsides. These Missourians are our military veterans, our moms, our dads, our sons and our daughters. With NAMI’s support we are making a smart investment in supportive housing for these individuals. I credit NAMI’s past and continued efforts with the success we have achieved so far.”
On August 20, the state housing agency approved funding for two housing developments that will combine critical supportive services with safe and stable housing. The housing will target those with special needs, such as chronically homeless individuals, those suffering from mental illness, those with a physical or developmental disability and youth aging out of foster care.
One in four adults suffers from mental illness in a given year, or 1.1 million Missourians. It is estimated that on any given night there are 6,000 homeless Missourians, of which 1,100 are chronically homeless or suffering repeated and long-term homelessness. Chronically homeless people are often suffering from a mental illness. The plan passed by the housing agency combines housing with the necessary supportive services to ensure long-term stable housing, and results in cost reductions to communities by reducing the strain on shelters, hospitals, jails, prisons and emergency rooms.
“Many people do not connect homelessness with mental illness,” said Jackie Lukitsch, Executive Director of NAMI St. Louis. “The truth is that about one-third of the homeless population nationwide suffers from a severe mental illness. Many of them are chronically homeless and require not only safe, affordable housing, but also supportive services to help them maintain housing in our communities. Treasurer Zweifel understands this and he is committed to addressing the problem of homelessness in the State of Missouri in a way that, to my knowledge, no one has ever done before with the housing agency.”
According the state housing agency, funding for the two special-needs projects is expected to be approved in February.
“We are connecting the dots between community organizations, faith-based providers, health services experts, businesses and local, state and federal governments so that we can create solutions that meet the special needs of people throughout Missouri,” Treasurer Zweifel said. “There is no additional spending, and we are achieving a fair return for taxpayers by ensuring funds are spent in a way that leverages federal and state dollars.”