People with mental illness will lose their homes because of the Norristown land deal

She said the on-site “coordinated outreach center for the homeless” doesn’t just provide a place to sleep. It helps people to identify the challenges they are facing which, for various reasons, may prevent them from being able to rent an apartment or a house.

“The main reason is affordability,” Howard said. “There really is a huge lack of affordable housing in Montgomery County that was only made worse by Hurricane Ida.” The September 2021 hurricane destroyed hundreds of homes in the area. Some people are still living in hotels as they search for new homes.

The Norristown property is also the site of ‘Carol’s Place’, an eight-bed crisis residential program that aims to divert people experiencing a mental health crisis from needing a higher level of care, such as a hospital and hospitalization. “, Howard said.

Howard is in the process of securing a new location for Carol’s Place and is confident the deal will be completed by the summer. On the other hand, the future of the homeless shelter and residential mental health care program is uncertain.

“None of the other programs will be operational this summer,” Howard said. “That’s the biggest challenge. What will be the interim solutions for the people served on the ground there? »

One solution offered by Duffy-Bell is for the redevelopment authority to lease the building in use for another year. She said it would give them more time to set up the three community programs elsewhere.

It is not known if the city would be open to this idea. Emails to Norristown spokesperson Kevin Tustin and City Administrator Crandall Jones went unanswered. County spokeswoman Kelly Cofrancisco said Norristown plans to transfer the land to the Montgomery County Redevelopment Authority, “while Norristown, which will have complete control of the site, oversees the redevelopment process.”

Pennsylvania Department of Social Services spokesman Brandon Cwalina said the Wolf administration supports the land transfer, which is part of a plan to expand the forensic unit on campus.

Cwalina noted that the state has added beds elsewhere to offset the losses closing the Norristown program would create. These beds are in use.

“DHS is dedicating time and personnel resources to help counties ensure appropriate treatment and care for all of these individuals and will ensure their safe transition to other providers before Elwyn is forced to leave the property. July 24, 2022,” Cwalina said. “We want to emphasize that these transitions are not just about housing, but also about treatment.”

Democratic State Rep. Matt Bradford of Montgomery County said he and his staff “have had regular conversations with the department and Montgomery County about how people currently serving in the state Norristown can be transferred safely and responsibly to other locations”.

“Additionally, I fully support the Governor’s proposed investment of state and federal funds in additional access to mental health and workforce services,” Bradford said. “This investment is a long overdue restoration of funding and is desperately needed.”

For Duffy-Bell and Howard, addressing decades of underfunded county mental health services is critical to preventing problems like this in the future.

Duffy-Bell said lawmakers often point to one-time funding stipends as a solution, when counties need reliable funds that rise with the cost of living.

“I think it all comes down to economics,” she said. “That, and getting the people who have the power to make the decisions, the budget decisions, to understand the concept of sustainable financing.”

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