Apartment complex planned for Moab will provide housing for those with mental illness
by Rudy Herndon
Staff Writer
Mar 20, 2014 | 1857 views | 0 0 comments | 63 63 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Four Corners Community Behavioral Health broke ground last week on a new independent living apartment complex for mentally ill homeless residents and others. Pictured (left to right) architect Jim Dresslar, Four Corners Executive Director Karen Dolan, Four Corners board members Cynthia Smith and Margaret Cochran and Grand County Council liaison Elizabeth Tubbs. Photo by Rudy Herndon
Four Corners Community Behavioral Health broke ground last week on a new independent living apartment complex for mentally ill homeless residents and others. Pictured (left to right) architect Jim Dresslar, Four Corners Executive Director Karen Dolan, Four Corners board members Cynthia Smith and Margaret Cochran and Grand County Council liaison Elizabeth Tubbs. Photo by Rudy Herndon
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Affordable housing in the Moab Valley is so scarce that Four Corners Community Behavioral Health administrators say they have trouble recruiting new employees to the area.

As challenging as that can be, though, the housing situation has been even more difficult for the people they help, including those who have poor credit scores, criminal histories and chronic mental illnesses.

But that will soon change.

On March 10, Four Corners broke ground on a new independent-living apartment complex for residents with serious and persistent mental illnesses.

The private nonprofit organization is building the Aspen Cove apartments on a dirt and gravel lot next to its Willows supported-living home at 48 Shields Lane.

Homeless residents with serious and persistent mental illnesses will have first dibs on the eight one-bedroom units and two two-bedroom units, which should be finished by December, according to Four Corners’ Interact Program Director Sharon Relph.

Mentally ill people who are living in substandard housing, as well as those who are spending too much of their incomes on rent, will also be able to sign up for housing at Aspen Cove.

Both housing programs are designed to complement the services that the Interact clubhouse offers its members each weekday morning and afternoon.

“We view the housing component as the evening and weekend continuation of [those services],” Relph said.

The clubhouse at 59 North 200 East currently provides members with a day-to-day structure, while helping them build the skills they need in order to live independently.

But in cases where its at-risk clients remain homeless, Relph is concerned that those services aren’t as effective as they could be.

“The big thing for us is that it’s really hard to accomplish anything if you don’t have a place to sleep at night,” she said. “That’s the thing we start with: Food and shelter.”

The latter of those often comes at a high premium in Moab. In some cases, Relph said, people are spending as much as 80 percent of their annual incomes on housing.

As an affordable alternative, rents at Aspen Cove will be set at 30 percent of a person’s income.

Each unit will have washer/dryer hookups, but it will be up to residents to install their own machines.

Apartments will be partially furnished with beds, couches and dressers, thanks to a grant from LDS Humanitarian Services.

However, most of the furniture will be unassembled when it eventually arrives on site, so Relph is hoping volunteers will come forward later this year to help put everything together.

Between now and then, Four Corners staffers will sit down with prospective residents of Aspen Cove and go over the terms they’d like to see included in a lease agreement.

According to Relph, it has taken Four Corners about three years to reach this point.

“An idea comes in and then you have to go out and try to find all of the funding for it,” Relph said.

That funding finally came through a combination of grants, loans and agency contributions from the federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, Utah’s Olene Walker Housing Loan Fund, Four Corners and local sources.

Four Corners Community Behavioral Health Executive Director Karen Dolan added one more name to the list of people who worked to make the project a reality: Sharon Relph.

“She’s the best [fundraiser] I know,” Dolan said.

Relph also thanked neighbors Colleen and D.L. Taylor for offering the use their property as a staging area for building materials. Everyone else that Four Corners approached over the years, from city officials to utility company employees, has also been very supportive of the project, she said.

“They’re on board, and it’s pretty neat to see that,” she added.

For more information about Aspen Cove, the Willows or the Interact clubhouse, contact Relph at: 435-259-7340.

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