City of South Bend finalizes agreement with Oaklawn for funding of behavioral crisis center

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - The City of South Bend has finalized a funding agreement with Oaklawn for a 24/7 behavioral crisis center in South Bend.

A plan for the crisis center has been in motion for two years, in collaboration with Oaklawn, the St. Joseph County Department of Health, Memorial Hospital, the St. Joseph County Sheriff's Office, the South Bend Police Department, the St. Joseph County Council, and the South Bend Common Council.

“After years of collaboration, I am glad our community is ready to establish a crisis center and fill in gaps in our mental health services,” said Mayor James Mueller. “This partnership between the City and Oaklawn provides the funding necessary for the buildout of the center and its initial operation costs. I am optimistic that additional funding partnerships with the County and State will sustain the crisis center and these critical mental health services beyond its initial years.”

This finalized agreement with the city provides Oaklawn with $2.66 million to invest into the Memorial Epworth building, establish the crisis center, and fund its first year of operations.

Funds come from the city's American Rescue Plan, which passed the Common Council in October of 2021.

The County Council appropriated matching funds as part of the American Rescue Plan distribution.

In December, the St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners delayed signing a contract that would implement the center, referencing in part that commissioners had yet to see a written commitment from the city detailing how much money would be put toward the center and for how long.  

According to city officials, the tabled contract would have provided matching funds to establish the center and support its operations for three years.

“We are honored to have the City’s support for this project as the next step in making the crisis center a reality,” said Oaklawn President & CEO Laurie Nafziger. “We are working diligently with county officials to answer all questions and wholeheartedly believe the crisis center is the next step in caring for the mental health needs of our communities.”

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