Portage Manor to close

Published: Feb. 7, 2023 at 3:33 PM EST
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ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. (WNDU) - Portage Manor will close its doors after more than 100 years in service.

Some county officials and citizens say there’s been a lack of transparency throughout this entire process, and due to the housing shortage, do not think this is the right move.

The facility provides housing for those dealing with mental and physical challenges.

In a press release sent out Tuesday, it states that the St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners and the County Council came to the conclusion to close Portage Manor.

The press release also states that the council reached this decision after “hundreds of thousands of dollars researching various funding mechanisms to continue operations.”

But some council members say these statements are false.

“I was stunned as I think I said until I received a text from the press. I had no idea this was happening, so this was a total surprise to me as a county counselor,” said Diana Hess on the St. Joseph County Council.

They say they discussed potential options at the end of their last committee meeting, like building a new full-sized facility, looking at a smaller facility or housing residents, but no final decision was ever made.

“So if there was a decision made, certain counselors weren’t included,” said Hess.

Community members are weighing in too.

“I’m not surprised. I am extremely disappointed. I have had a relative that has resided there for four years...This whole process has been...nothing but lip service. This whole process has been done behind closed doors,” said Roy Saenz.

“We’ve never taken on action like this with such consequences to people involved, and I think it really should be a much more public process,” said Mark Catanzarite on the St. Joseph County Council.

Commissioner Derek Dieter said relocating people may take a while.

“So, I’m not sure where they are thinking of relocating these residents, but I don’t know that they will get the same care if they need it,” said Hess.

“And without this valuable resource in the community, it will be an added burden to the police force, the jails, the hospitals and the acute mental health facilities,” said Saenz.

The county did not specify a closure date.