Faith, community leaders celebrate new crisis response center

Published: Jan. 4, 2023 at 11:31 PM EST
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Faith and community leaders are celebrating after the City of South Bend finalizes an agreement with Oaklawn on the funding of a new crisis response center.

“Even though the county isn’t ready to match those, the city is moving forward. Now we can sign the contract with Oaklawn. We can begin construction. We can look forward to the Spring of having this facility available for people who are in mental health distress. [There are] up to 14 beds available for people who need a place to stay while they get the care that they need,” said Broadway Christian Parish United Methodist Church’s Lead Pastor Carl Hetler.

The center will be housed in a section of Epworth along Niles Avenue.

Mayor James Mueller said it is a “critical service that we need in our community” and is “a safe place to go when someone is in crisis.”

“Mental health is not just something for the people who are vulnerable, or who are on the street, but something we all face, regardless of your economics, regardless of your ethnicity and regardless of your education,” said Hetler.

The original agreement called for St. Joseph County and the city to each contribute about $2.7 million in American Rescue Plan dollars to fund the center.

But now the city is going at it alone, and will provide roughly $2.7 million to fund the first year of operations.

“They can cover for about the first year. But if the county council would approve it again and allocate the funds...then we would be looking at a couple years of funding this facility, 24-7...We’ve been a part of recent conversations with the new county commissioner president, Mr. Baxmeyer, and we feel positive that he understands the need, that this is a county-wide issue and that he is going to help champion this and move this forward,” said Hetler.