Cornerstone, Inc., a nonprofit housing finance intermediary, channels public and private investments into subsidies for safe, affordable, and dignified housing for people recovering from mental illness in the District of Columbia. Individuals in Cornerstone-funded housing receive a choice of mental health, social, and medical services that appropriate to their needs. Over the past 12 years, Cornerstone financed the acquisition and renovation of over 1,650 units of housing.
Cornerstone's mission is to finance supportive housing for people with mental illness in the District of Columbia. This is done through a well-defined set of programs including:
Awards Program - By designing awards as a combination of loans and grants, Cornerstone has created a substantial repayment pool which it funnels into the purchase and improvement of more housing units.
Short-Term Loans - Cornerstone offers short-term loans for the time in between loan commitment and loan disbursement by government entities and private lenders. It also acts as an intermediary for short-term acquisition funding for special needs housing for the DC Department of Housing and Community Development.
Technical Assistance: Cornerstone provides hands-on technical assistance with finance packaging, construction needs, and document review. These services support borrowers who have limited experience in housing development and finance.
These services are available over the long term and along a continuum of care, so those consumers may maintain stability and stay in the community. Cornerstone channels public and private investment into subsidies for housing dedicated to mental health consumers, from government grants or investments by institutions such as Calvert Foundation.
Cornerstone is for people facing the many challenges of recovering from mental illness, and it primarily serves urban communities in the District of Columbia. Borrowers are mainly organizations and the end recipients are people with mental illness, who often live not only with serious and persistent mental illness but also with substance abuse, HIV/AIDS and other illnesses, or physical disabilities. They have very low incomes, typically $7,000 annually, primarily from government subsidies. Cornerstone serves an ethnically diverse client population, consisting of 85% African Americans and 5% Caucasians. Additionally, half of Cornerstone's clients are women.
Cornerstone supports a variety of housing options: single-family homes, apartments, and single-room occupancy units. Since its inception in 1995, Cornerstone has financed 1,650 housing units for a total of $29 million. In accordance with national best practices, Cornerstone is funding supported housing, where consumers live on their own in efficiencies and one-bedroom apartments, and receive support services as needed.
Cornerstone continues to meet the housing needs of mental health consumers. For FY 2007, 54 housing units were financed totaling $1,606,000. Cornerstone also provided funding for air conditioning units for 142 people with mental illness in community-based housing.
Martha Jones is a resident of a group house for men and women in community based housing that is funded by Cornerstone, Inc. “I worked at Garfinckel’s. I loved sales; I loved meeting people. After I retired I had a breakdown. I went to Saint Elizabeths. But this house [supported by Cornerstone] is much better. This is a very nice house and the counselors are wonderful and the food is marvelous.” Full Story