The Melissa's House Foundation, a Columbus-based nonprofit organization, will partner with the Community Housing Network to further both groups' missions.

The Melissa's House Foundation, a Columbus-based nonprofit organization, will partner with the Community Housing Network to further both groups' missions.

"The mission of Melissa's House has always been to provide a loving environment and a place to be (for people with mental illness)," said Billy Goldberg, co-chairman of Melissa's House.

"I think we can help so many more people and help them faster if we were to provide that environment in existing group homes and residences, rather than reinvent the wheel."

The Community Housing Network develops, owns and manages apartments for people with mental illness, a substance addiction or a history of homelessness, said Susan Weaver, executive director and chief executive officer of the organization.

She said many of the people living in the 1,200 apartments owned by the CHN and 400 others receiving housing subsidies from CHN have been diagnosed with mental illness or substance addiction.

The CHN uses grants from a variety of sources and tax credits to develop housing in Franklin County.

The Melissa's House Foundation will provide grants to CHN to improve its spaces by making them more warm and inviting for the residents.

"(The Melissa's House Foundation) is going to be providing us with small grants in order to enhance the housing that already exists," Weaver said.

The first joint project will be to improve the common spaces in a 38-unit apartment complex on East Fifth Avenue in Columbus that is owned and managed by the CHN.

The residents are women of all ages, and they each have their own apartment with a private bathroom and a full kitchen, Weaver said. Some have jobs and many have children and grandchildren who regularly visit.

Common spaces include a lobby, television lounge, exercise room, kitchen and an outdoor area.

"We're looking at what they can do to enhance the common space and make it more homey," Weaver said.

Goldberg said the residents have asked for a swing set to entertain visiting children and space for a garden.

"We realized that there was an opportunity for us to partner with CHN and our first house is on Fifth Avenue," Goldberg said.

He said the Melissa's House Foundation could help CHN with other homes and partner with other organizations to complete improvements more efficiently.

"My vision is to have a company like Sherwin Williams as a paint partner and have a furniture partner, which would allow people to contribute in ways they couldn't before," Goldberg said. "I could see this growing throughout the community."

The Melissa's House Foundation last year announced its intention to partner with the Jefferson Center for Learning and the Arts to renovate a 133-year-old home at 100 Jefferson Ave. in east Columbus.

The plan was to restore the building to include meeting spaces for mental-health support groups and provide a community atmosphere for mental-health programs, including a yoga studio, art room and a teaching kitchen.

That plan was changed, however, when the foundation board and co-chairmen Goldberg and Jeff Knupp were looking for ways to help more people.