Cardinal Innovations Funds Pioneering Effort to Provide Permanent, Affordable Housing for People with Serious Mental Illness

Cardinal Innovations Healthcare — June 10, 2021
Charlotte, NC / June 10, 2021 – An estimated three in ten Americans who are homeless also suffer from serious mental illness (SMI), an indication of the acute lack of affordable, stable housing for some of our society’s most vulnerable members. An innovative project, funded by a grant from Cardinal Innovations Healthcare, hopes to use micro-housing configured with supportive services and nearby amenities to help overcome this problem in North Carolina and nationally.

A public/private partnership between Cross Disability Services, Inc. (XDS) and The School of Social Work (SSW) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will use a $100,000 grant from Cardinal Innovations to develop “Tiny Homes Village” (THV) whose primary purpose is to offer “well-designed, affordable, permanent homes to support the health and wellbeing of people with SMI.”
According to the grant application, the project will comprise 15 tiny homes, each valued at $50,000 with approximately 350 square feet of living space. The homes will be built in a village with a communal clubhouse, green spaces and ready access to public transportation and a variety of community-based services.
Residents of the THV will receive Permanent Supportive Housing (PHS), a service model that has been proven effective at supporting the successful integration of people with SMI into the community by improving mental health outcomes while reducing health care costs.
XDS is the owner and operator of THV, located adjacent to the Farm at Penny Lane in northeastern Chatham County, NC. Thava Mahadevan, MS, CEO of XDS, is the founder and co-director with Amy Blank Wilson, PhD, associate professor at the UNC-CH School of Social Work, the primary sponsor. Construction began in March 2020 and is expected to be completed in October 2021.
Residents will receive long-term leases and pay one-third of their monthly income to rent a tiny home. Veterans will be given priority consideration for five of the homes.
“Access to safe and affordable housing is a fundamental human right,” said Thava Mahadevan, Executive Director, XDS Inc. and Director of Operations for the UNC Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health.  “The Tiny Homes Village project has the potential to transform the lives of people impacted by mental health conditions. We are grateful to Cardinal Innovations for their generous support and partnership on this initiative.”
The UNC Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health will be the primary service provider for the project. Its staff will work with residents to develop individual wellness plans. Peer support specialists also will be available on-site. A wide range of ancillary activities will be offered in the village such as yoga, horticultural therapy, art and music classes and cooking lessons, and banks, grocery stores, transportation and other educational programs will be accessible nearby.
“Tiny Homes Village is an exciting and pioneering effort in support of those with SMI,” said Trey Sutten, Cardinal Innovations CEO. “Addressing the vitally important element of affordable and stable housing is the foundation for health and wellbeing. We are honored to be a partner in helping to realize such an important project with great potential to become a national model.”
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About Cardinal Innovations Healthcare: Cardinal Innovations Healthcare is a specialized health plan and care coordinator for Medicaid recipients and the under- and uninsured in North Carolina with complex behavioral and special needs. Cardinal Innovations connects people with treatment and support for mental health, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and substance use disorders through a network of providers in their communities. The organization serves this important role in 20 counties. In 2020, Cardinal Innovations administered nearly $850 million for the care of 825,000 people in the region and invested more than $50 million to improve support systems and to respond to the pandemic. Cardinal Innovations also works with local governments to address public health concerns such as homelessness, suicide prevention, child welfare and domestic violence through education, engagement and outreach.

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