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Robert Beilman House
The Robert L. Beilman House on Madison's north side is being nationally recognized as a model of housing for low-income people that promotes long-term affordability.

A Madison housing project that provides housing for low-income people with severe mental illness has won national recognition for promoting long-term affordability.

The Robert L. Beilman House, in the Sherman neighborhood on the city's north side, was selected for a Door Knocker award by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. The award was made during a conference last week marking the 20th anniversary of HUD's Home Investment Partnership, popularly known as the HOME program, which provides cities with funds used in partnership with nonprofit organizations to develop and operate affordable housing.

The Beilman House is a program of the nonprofit Housing Initiatives Inc. of Madison, developed with HOME funds allocated through the city of Madison, as well as several other federal, state and local funding sources.

The nine-unit was developed with several goals in mind, says Michael Basford, associate executive director for Housing Initiatives. It was a good fit in the neighborhood, would leverage the housing subsidies for which its residents are eligible, and took advantage of its setting to provide housing that seems like home, not an institution.

"A huge blessing," is how one formerly homeless resident described his efficiency apartment to me, when I visited and wrote about Beilman House during its dedication back in 2005. People with severe mental illness have a high rate of homelessness, so housing options like Beilman House, are critical to keeping people off the street and in decent permanent housing that they can afford.

The building also was designed with energy-efficient features to keep utility costs down. Read more about the project here.

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"We are very proud of being able to develop this project with the help of so many in the community," Basford says. "It has been a successful model for independent supportive housing for the clients and community we serve."

Too bad that the HOME program that helped make Beilman House a reality, and is recognizing its success, was cut $218 million in 2011 and is slated for $157 million in cuts in President Obama's 2012 budget.