TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV)– As one local organization looks to secure funding for a diversion center and low-income housing units in Terre Haute, Vigo officials raised questions on how that spending was split between local government offices.
Mental Health America West-Central Indiana is currently seeking the final $1 million for two projects– building 42 low-income housing units called “Mullen Flats,” along with plans for a diversion center to work with incarcerated individuals. Both of these will be built in northern Terre Haute, west of Liberty Village Apartments.
The organization is requesting $250,000 from the Vigo County Commissioners, $250,000 from the Terre Haute City Council and the remaining $500,000 from the Vigo County Council. They detailed their request to the county council on Tuesday– and council members had concerns on why they were left with the largest chunk of spending.
Myra Wilkey, the CEO of the organization, said they have held several meetings over the past few weeks and months that helped structure their proposals.
“That’s just a decision that was made between the city and the county commissioners,” she said. “I’m not really sure what that happened, they thought that would be the best, most appropriate way to go with the funding.”
Council member Todd Thacker said he supports the services they want to provide, but wishes the county council was involved in the conversations sooner.
“The only thing I was a little bit passionate about is, we hear about this when they need to have this done, but three months ago they were having these discussions, and we weren’t part of it,” he said. “We were just part of it tonight. But they need the money next week.”
No decision had to be made tonight– and Thacker said he wants to spend the next seven days considering all of their options.
“What I plan to do is, I asked to see some letters of support,” he said. “Find out what is the pulse, if you will, of the county in supporting this or not, and then vote appropriately.”
Wilkey said they had secured a majority of the funding– and this final $1 million is the final step before they can move forward on the project, something they’ve been working on the past few years. She said they are hoping to start the projects soon– and doing construction simultaneously could save them up to $500,000.
“I just think that we have a one million dollar gap,” she said. “If we were to build the diversion center outside of building it with Mullen Flats, the cost of that six months ago was $1 million. So the general contractor and the sub-contractors said, ‘If we can do it all together, and roll this project together, you can have potential savings of $500,000.’”
She believes these resources are vital for the community.
“Our community is not mentally well,” she said. “I think we need to think about doing some prevention measures and getting people to where, if they’re willing to do treatment in lieu of jail, wouldn’t that be great?”
The county council will vote on what to do next week. Wilkey said, if approved, the current timeline would have construction finish on the projects in late 2024.