Donate Today!

2020 Affordable Housing Forum

Intersections in Housing and Mental Health

Thanks to all who attended our third annual Affordable Housing Forum virtually this year!

Housing is one of the most impactful determinants of a person’s overall health—especially mental health. When an individual’s home—their foundation—is at stake, caring for one’s health often takes a backseat to the anxiety, depression, and psychological distress that comes with housing instability. But when someone has a safe, stable, affordable home, they are much more able to focus on meeting other critical needs and reaching their goals.

If you weren’t able to attend this year’s virtual Forum, you can watch a recording of the webinar below:


Meet Our Panelists:

Martina Gollin Graves, MSW

Martina Gollin Graves, President and CEO at Mental Health America of Wisconsin (MHA), has been with the organization for 16 years. Martina’s work is driven by MHA’s commitment to promoting mental health as a critical part of overall wellness. Martina’s advocacy efforts support improved suicide prevention efforts across Wisconsin and expanded access to community-based mental health services for our most vulnerable community members. She served as co-chair on the Milwaukee Mental Health Task Force for five years and is one of the original members of the Milwaukee Latino Health Coalition’s Mental Health Action Team. Her core belief is that there is no health without mental health.


Reverend Walter J. Lanier, JD, MDIV

Walter Lanier is a husband, father, lawyer, pastor, teacher, educator, and social entrepreneur with a deep commitment to being a liberating force in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Lanier, an inaugural CBMA fellow, is the Senior Pastor of Progressive Baptist Church of Milwaukee, which has a 30-year track record of innovation and service to the Milwaukee community. Pastor Lanier also serves as the Director of Student Resources at Milwaukee Area Technical College, where he created the college’s Men of Color Initiative. A 1995 graduate of the University of Michigan law school, Lanier maintained a business law practice for over a decade prior to joining MATC. In 2005, he founded the Great Lakes Urban Empowerment Center, which focuses on building a network and proposing solutions for urban cities in the Great Lakes area. Lanier has lectured in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Department of Africology in the areas of race and constitutional law. In 2012, Lanier founded MIRACLE, Mental Illness—Raising Awareness with Church and Community Leaders Everywhere. MIRACLE works with faith based and community leaders, mental health organizations, and advocates to raise awareness and decrease stigma around mental illness. He currently serves on a variety of community boards including the Milwaukee Community Justice Council, Milwaukee Inner City Congregations Allied for Hope, and Housing Ministries of the American Baptist Churches of Wisconsin. Lastly, he is the Chairman of the Board for Milwaukee Health Services, Inc. a federally qualified health center serving patients in Milwaukee’s inner city.


Omkar Sawardekar, MSW, LICSW

Omkar Sawardekar, MSW, LICSW  is a Diversity & Inclusion Specialist and an Organizational Change Consultant who has worked in a range of clinical settings with a diverse range of clients in the context of demographic and acuity levels and is experienced as an individual, group, and family Therapist. Omkar has a background in technology, business, fundraising, and non-profit work. Driven by the tenets that relationships rooted in community are central to individual and societal healing and that the best healing practices grow from interdisciplinary methodologies, Omkar is committed to collaboratively developing tools that promote culturally responsive care. Throughout his work with individuals, families, and systems, Omkar is drawn to collaboratively addressing complex individual, cultural and systemic challenges. Omkar currently works with CommonBond Communities as a consultant in mental health.


Thank you to our event sponsors!


CommonBond Communities