After almost a year of searching, Step Up On Second — an organization that helps provide support and opportunities for people with mental illness to reintegrate into the community — reports that it is close to closing escrow on The Village Motel in Santa Monica, which is to become the home of “Daniel’s Village.”

Daniel’s Village will be part of Step Up On Second’s Daniel’s Place program.

It is planned to provide permanent housing for adults 18 to 28 years old who are in the earliest stages of mental illness such as depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

Daniel’s Village was originally to be located at 1826 Pearl St. in Santa Monica, but late last year, Step Up On Second was denied a $456,000 loan by the City of Santa Monica to help fund the transitional housing facility triplex on Pearl Street.

As a result, Step Up On Second pulled out of a deal to purchase the property.

The loan wasn’t granted because of “an administrative and technical decision,” said Bob Moncrief, the housing manager for the Housing Division of the city.

The proposed project did not meet the city’s Housing Trust Fund Guidelines.

And although, initially, the proposed Daniel’s House project on Pearl Street caused a stir when some residents expressed concerns about the facility being in a residential area where children and young adults travel the streets daily, Moncrief says neighborhood concerns played no role in the city denying Step Up On Second the $456,000 loan.

Since Step Up On Second pulled out of the project on Pearl Street last year, it has looked at five or six properties seriously, said Tod Lipka, chief executive officer of Step up on Second.

The Village Motel location at 2624 Santa Monica Blvd. “really works well for us,” Lipka said. “And in terms of location, it’s in a busy, commercial area and resources — like the college [Santa Monica College] and Step Up On Second — are within easy reach of this location.”

Escrow is expected to close by the end of the month, Lipka says.

“Daniel’s Village will provide much-needed permanent supportive housing for young men and women in their early 20s who are struggling with the early symptoms of mental illness,” Lipka says. “Many are at risk of homelessness and the illness has struck at a time when most of us are developing the skills of independent living.

“This program will provide much-needed help so that the illness does not lead to the homelessness that we see so common in our community today.”

The project is a relatively small one, Lipka says.

The facility will have eight units — seven for young adults and one for the live-in resident manager, Lipka said.

And Lipka says that there’s a good reason to separate these services for young adults, including housing, from the rest of the programs at Step Up On Second.

“Early intervention leads to a greater chance of recovery from mental illness, and so it’s very important to separate the housing,” Lipka says, pointing out that those staying in Daniel’s Village will be in the early stages of mental illness.

“When young adults are with older adults that have been struggling with the illness for decades, they worry, ‘Is that going to be me in 20 years?’ And it doesn’t have to be that way, because there’s much more room for hope today than there was 30 years ago.”

If all goes well, refurbishments to the future Daniel’s Village will begin in February or March and Daniel’s Village will be ready for occupancy in October or November next year, Lipka said.

The total project cost is $2.4 million, including fixing up the motel, updating plumbing and electrical and getting a new roof. Step Up On Second doesn’t plan to change the exterior of the 1940s motel.

Just over $2 million of the total will be from the city.

Step Up On Second is still going to have to raise another $1.5 million, “because we want to fund the on-site services and support in addition to the bricks and mortar,” Lipka says.

Lipka makes the point that those served by Daniel’s Village will certainly be actively engaged in their lives — and in trying to move forward.

“These individuals will be going to school, will be enrolled in job training programs and will be actively going to Daniel’s Place for services,” Lipka says, adding that that there will also be on-site services.

Participants in the program will be screened through Daniel’s Place for their “readiness” and they will be connected to Daniel’s Place for case management, all during the time that they live at Daniel’s Village, Lipka said.

Priority will be given to people living in Santa Monica.

“I’m very excited because this is a much-needed project,” Lipka says. “And we greatly appreciate the support of the City of Santa Monica.”

Information, (310) 394-6889.

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