New living arrangements for habilitation center residents

Monday, June 1, 2015
One of four new homes built for the Slater housing project on Walnut Street in Slater.

Over the past few decades, the outlook on assisting those with mental disabilities has evolved to a more home-bound model, as opposed to operating large centralized institutions.

Suzan Bishop, superintendent of the Marshall Habilitation Center (hab center), explained the Mental Health Commission recommended some changes be made in regards to the roll the hab center.

"There was a task force that was put together over, probably, close to two years ago now ... they were supposed to be looking at the services that Marshall and Higginsville provide and making recommendations for moving forward into the future," Bishop said.

The task force ultimately recommended the campus piece of the hab center be closed, and that Marshall operated the community waiver program and community crisis program and that Higginville will operate the ICS campus program."

For those living on the hab center campus, a few options were presented to either transition to a private agency somewhere in the state of Missouri, move to Higginsville, or transition to one of the state-operated waiver homes. In light of the new circumstances, the Marshall-Saline Development Corporation has been building four homes in Slater.

"These individuals who are moving to Slater chose to transition to our state-operated program," Bishop said. "And so we'll be providing residential services to them in their own home."

Though the hab center does not own the homes being built, they will staff the houses and charge fees for rent and utilities paid to MSDC.

"The staff that works on our campus, their positions are being relocated either to those Slater homes to provide services --because those are the people who they currently provide services to, so they'll just relocate with those consumers-- or their jobs will relocate over to Higginsville," Bishop said. "The administrative staff that work currently at Marshall, the plan is for them to support the new community programs and the crisis programs, will stay on the campus until other property can be found."

The timeline to implement these changes has been in the works for some time now. Bill Riggins, director with MSDC explained more about the project on their end.

"MSDC is building them, and then we'll lease them back to the clients that are going to be living in them," Riggins said. "We are taking advantage of the HUD program, in order to buy the cost down enough that we can afford to rent them at what they want to rent for."

According to Riggins a completion goal for the project will be towards the end of August, and Bishop said they have been making the transition since the recommendation to move the clients was made. She said they will hopefully have everyone moved by the end of the calendar year.

Contact Lucas Johnson at ljohnson@marshallnews.com

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