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Portage Manor services considering leaving their home of more than a century amid financial woes

Published: Oct. 7, 2021 at 6:24 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) -New detail that could determine the future of Portage Manor, one of just a handful of original Indiana county homes still serving older citizens and adults with physical or mental disabilities.

The facility operated at a loss nearly every year for the past decade, with a deficit accumulating to almost $1.4 million over the past ten years.

16 News Now tells us if there’s any time or money left to keep this resource in its original home.

Money is tighter than ever at Portage Manor and they’re running out of reserve funds.

They’re searching for new sources of funding to keep their services available to the vulnerable population they serve, which could lead them to leave the building that they’ve called home for more than a century.

Between the cost of repairs and updates, so the structure meets the requirements for state Medicaid funding, the more than 100-year-old Portage Manor building can’t afford to serve its clients past two years.

The board of directors says they’re relying on the County Commission’s budget to include subsidies that will keep them running for the next three.

“We will deficit spent $400,000 per year. Council will pick up $217,000 so we can continue offering all the services we offer, keeping the staff that we have and ensuring we keep our good people around,” said Portage Manor Board of Directors Vice President, Mike Misch.

That will keep them afloat long enough to fund a feasibility study and to determine whether building a new structure or moving their residents to a new place better serves their long-term goals.

“If we build a new facility, we’ll have less residents per room, we’ll have access to better resources, hopefully, a better standard of living, in our brand new shiny building,” Misch said.

A new building will be designed to meet the state’s requirements to receive Medicaid funding.

Updating the current building to meet those requirements will cost at least $9 million. That investment is estimated to bring in $200,000 of revenue annually, not nearly enough to justify the cost.

While the numbers don’t back the prospects of keeping Portage Manor residents in the original building, one board member says it’s worth considering what it can still be used for.

“It is a significant building. It adds a lot to the historical inventory of buildings in the county and there may be other appropriate uses that relate to housing, just not this type of housing which has very specific needs,” said board member, Charles Leone.

Earlier in the meeting, St. Joseph County Economic Development Director Bill Schalliol announced Magnus Capital Partners, a development company interested in building residential units on the empty parts of the Portage Manor property, withdrew their Letter of Intent until their project can move forward in a more timely manner.

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