Officials are seeking $125,000 from the state to provide a facility to house and treat the mentally ill in a three-county area.

The Uintah County Building Authority will seek the grant from the Community Impact Board to purchase facilities in Roosevelt for use by the Uintah Basin Mental Health Authority.The authority is seeking permanent housing to provide living quarters and a day treatment center for residents of the tri-county area in need of mental health care.

In September the Uintah Basin Association of Governments board of directors passed a motion to pursue the state funding. This month the Uintah County Building Authority agreed to apply for the grant.

Phase 1 of the project involves securing a grant for $125,000 to purchase, remodel and equip a four-unit apartment complex in Roosevelt. Phase 2 would require $108,000 in grant money to purchase additional housing units in Roosevelt that will be available in 1996.

The facility would be operated by the Uintah Basin Mental Health Authority, but ownership would be through the building authority or through one of the counties directly, Uintah County Commissioner Max Adams said.

Construction of a new facility for mental health care would cost considerably more than the purchase of existing buildings, Adams said. Due to legislative mandates, the responsibility of housing mentally ill patients now falls on the shoulders of the counties, rather than the state.

"In the past seven years Vernal has changed locations five times due to leases expiring," Adams explained when detailing the crucial need for housing and treatment facilities for the mentally ill. "We're looking at permanent housing. In Roosevelt four-plexes could be purchased fairly reasonably and used permanently."

Uintah County currently has one treatment facility used for the care of the mentally ill. But Adams said services such as treatment programs for children, adolescents and adults are "being displaced" because of a lack of space.

"We need a quick, economical method to acquire property to meet these needs," he said.

Uintah County's application to the Community Impact Board will be for a total grant, because there is no mechanism to pay back a loan, Adams said. Daggett, Duchesne and Uintah Counties are each responsible for a 20 percent funding contribution for the operation of the Mental Health Authority.