Berkeley Mental Health Commission to hold hearings on $8 million budget

Allison Levitsky (BCN)
Tuesday December 13, 2016 - 11:38:00 AM

City officials in Berkeley are fielding public input this week on an $8 million budget to bolster mental health services in the city. 

The city's mental health commission is accepting feedback until 5 p.m. on Thursday, city spokesman Matthai Chakko said. 

At 7 p.m. that evening, the commission will hold a public hearing on the plan at the North Berkeley Senior Center, located at 1901 Hearst Ave., before submitting it to City Council for approval next month. 

The budget update would use $8 million in funding from the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA), a state law approved by voters in November 2004 that places a 1 percent tax on every dollar of personal income over $1 million, Chakko said. 

Currently the city provides a range of programs including outreach, assessment, referrals and treatment. The costs of existing programs are included in the $8 million budget. 

Among other things, the proposal would allocate an additional $819,613 to the $2,954,198 renovation of the Adult Mental Health Clinic. According to the proposal, the additional funding would allow the clinic to be environmentally sustainable. 

The proposal would also allocate an additional $150,000 to expand and relocate the Berkeley Creative Wellness Center, a socialization program for adults with significant mental health problems that currently operates less than 15 hours a week in the South Berkeley Community Church. 

The Annual Update would also allocate $10,000 annually to an already-approved $100,000 project to add seven permanent housing units at the McKinley Family Transition House. 

In addition, the proposal would double the $10,000 in flexible funds for a mental health team to help clients with housing, clothing, food and transportation. 

Residents wishing to provide feedback can contact Karen Klatt, the city's mental health coordinator, at (510) 981-7644 or kklatt@cityofberkeley.info.