Goodwill Expands Housing for People with Mental Illness in Wisconsin

Madison apartment complex for individuals with mental illnessLow-income individuals with chronic mental health challenges in the Madison, WI, area are benefiting from expanded housing opportunities, thanks to a new apartment building recently opened by Goodwill Industries of South Central Wisconsin.

The apartment building, the seventh of its kind operated by the Goodwill®, contains eight units and is located in the state’s capital, Madison. Seven one-bedroom units are being rented by individuals with chronic mental illness. A property supervisor lives in a unit within the building.

“Without this type of housing, these individuals would be homeless. For a majority of the people who are living in these apartments, it is probably the first and only place they actually have to call home,” said Goodwill Industries of South Central Wisconsin President and CEO Barbara Leslie.

The city of Madison’s Community Development Block Grant Office awarded federal HOME Investment Partnerships Program funds for the purchase of the land. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provided over $1 million to build the facility.

“In the 1970s, when the push to move individuals with mental illness out of institutions began, we quickly realized there was nowhere for them to go that would be safe, affordable and supervised. So we set up a program where we leased apartments from someone else and then our clients rented the units from us,” Leslie said.

In the early 1980s, in partnership with HUD, the Madison-based Goodwill began building and acquiring apartments instead of leasing them. Now the agency operates 74 apartments in its buildings serving low-income individuals with mental illness, as well as one for low-income senior citizens. With a subsidy from HUD, eligible tenants pay only one-third of their income as rent to live in a Goodwill-supported apartment.

The newest apartment building is named after Sandra Hall, a former long-term employee of Goodwill Industries of South Central Wisconsin who was a strong proponent of quality housing for people with disabilities.