The Process of Funding Mental Health Services from the City of Ann Arbor Millage Funds: Two Options
This section describes two good options for appropriating funds wisely to mental health services.
Option 1: Augment the Appropriation to Washtenaw Coordinated Funding (WCF)
The City Council is a partner in a process titled Washtenaw Coordinated Funding (WCF). It allocates funds to human services including programs for people struggling with mental health challenges and for their supporting family members and guardians. The process currently manages the fruitful use of $1.33 million of City funds. The process could easily channel an additional $1 million or more per year from the Mental Health and Public Safety Millage to productive uses. More information on WCF is available at https://coordinatedfunders.org/.
A copy of page 223 from the FY 2019 Budget of the City of Ann Arbor appears below.
The above list is important because it shows the breadth of the institutions funded by the City in one or more of FYs 2016-2019, e.g., Avalon Housing, Community Action Network, Legal Services of South Central Michigan, Ozone House, University of Michigan, Washtenaw County Community Mental Health, and Washtenaw Intermediate School District. If someone says, for example, the City can't fund a program of the Depression Center of the University of Michigan, one can reply the City has funded the University of Michigan. Ditto for a school district, a nonprofit such as Ozone House, etc.
Option 2: Utilize the Services of the Housing and Human Services Advisory Board (HHSAB)
As stated on the City's website, “The purpose of the Housing and Human Services Advisory Board (HHSAB) is to make recommendations to the City Council, City Administration, and the Office of Community Development regarding policies and programs to address the housing and human services needs of low income residents of the City of Ann Arbor.” The members include community representatives — one of whom is a youth, a professional or academic, representatives of non-profits, and two non-voting City Council members.
We prefer this option because the purpose of HHSAB aligns closely with the role needed to allocate the millage funds so as to gain maximum benefit. The overlap of those struggling with mental health and low income challenges means the increase in scope would not be enormous. HHSAB is an established body and a city institution, that is, there will be no need to create and fund a new bureaucracy and deliberations would be known in detail to City Council because two Council members would be present.
The process could proceed as follows. The City Council would tentatively allocate funds from the millage for mental health services, then ask HHSAB for its recommendations on specific allocations to service providers primarily serving residents within Ann Arbor including all students within the Ann Arbor Public Schools, and finally would make decisions on allocations after receiving the recommendations of HHSAB.