Mental Health America postpones closure

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Mental Health America is postponing the announced closure of its day shelter.

As News 18 has already reported, the board of trustees originally decided to close it after they saw a lack of funding. However, people who use the shelter are trying not to think about what’s to come.

For two years, Richard Havling has used the Mental Health America of Tippecanoe County’s day shelter. Havling is homeless, but has started volunteering at the shelter and is learning how to hold a job.

“About six months of being here, I started volunteering in the kitchen, and I like helping others,” Havling shared. “It was keeping me off the street.”

For 12 years, Raymond Briles was in Havling’s shoes. He gives full credit to the MHA day shelter for getting him off the streets and into a home.

“What’s my life like now? I’m on my own two feet,” said Briles. “I met a decent lady. I live in her home.”

Briles and Havling have been wondering what will happen to the future of the homeless in Tippecanoe County since the MHA of Tippecanoe County Board of Trustees announced the shelter will close.

As News 18 previously reported, the board announced the shelter will close in September due to lack of funding. However, that date has been postponed for now.

Mental Health America CEO Jennifer Flora said the year will be spent trying to figure out how to keep the service in the community.

“How this community can best serve homeless individuals during the day. Can any programs possibly be consolidated? Can other sources of support be found so that we can be financially stable?” Flora said in regards to keeping the shelters’ doors open.

Flora said the closing date has been pushed back to June 30, 2015, which is after the upcoming cycle of funding ends, July 1. She said the board made a commitment to keep the shelter open for that time, even though they will not have the $170,000 it takes to run the day shelter for a year.

Havling and Briles both suffer from mental illness. They said the shelter gave them more than just a place to stay.

“It gave me something to do,” explained Havling. “I brought back some self pride I had lost by becoming homeless.”

Briles agreed, “They gave me the strength to be able to help myself.”

If you would like to donate to the Mental Health America of Tippecanoe County day shelter, visit here.

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