APOLLO Resource Center, Ramsey County’s only drop-in center for people with mental illness, closed May 1 after more than 36 years. Like many other programs it is a victim of funding cuts and shifts in how services are delivered.
Clients were told of the closing during a January meeting with center staff. The center was run by People Inc. Other related programs including independent living skills training, Artability and other services will continue to operate. Funding that had been used to operate the drop-in center will be redirected to a job placement services. Most people who worked at the center have been reassigned.
For the past several weeks, staff worked to find other resources for the clients who rely on the drop-in center for support. Some fear winding up in inpatient programs for adult foster care without the support the center provided. Those who rely on the center described the closing as a shock, with some comparing it to being punched in the stomach.
But the closing is representative of a trend in mental health funding, Tim Burkett, CEO of People Inc., said in an interview with City Pages. As public support for mental health services are cut, the remaining dollars are focused on programs with measurable objectives. That is a threat to programs with harder-to-quantify rates of success such as a drop-in center.
Apollo Resource Center lost $300,000 in county funding in early January. During 2013 budget deliberations last year, Ramsey County staff explained that they have to find more value with fewer dollars from the state.
Nearly $60 million has been cut from Minnesota mental illness programs in the last four years, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness Minnesota. That doesn’t include the proposed $150 million in health and human services budget cuts currently under scrutiny at the capitol. Those cuts, if adopted, would take effect in the 2014-15 biennium.
The Apollo Resource Center has served adults from Ramsey County as well as Washington County. It was housed in different community locations, most recently in the basement level of the Dale Street Place (formerly Redeemer Arms) apartment building at Interstate 94 and Dale Street in St. Paul. Dale Street Place is a residence for people with disabilities.
The drop-in center, which opened in 1976, served about 30 people per day. It has also faced budget cuts in the past, but managed to stave those off.
Clients and supporters did mount a similar campaign earlier this year, calling and writing elected officials to save the drop-in center. But their efforts fell short, because the county doesn’t have enough money to keep the center open.
The closing and diversion of funds for supported employment program is part of a larger effort to retool Ramsey County’s community support services. County officials are directing Apollo center clients to the Ramsey County mental health services, which are offered to two locations on University Avenue in St. Paul. Call 651-266-7890 or go to http://tinyurl.com/Apollo-support to find services. Clients can be assigned case managers and find support groups.
NAMI Minnesota doesn’t have a drop-in center but has support groups and classes. Call 651-645-2948 or go to www.namihelps.org and click the tabs.
The closest drop-in centers are in Minneapolis and Hennepin County, where there are seven centers. Go to the Hennepin County adult mental health website at http://tinyurl.com/hennepin-support For a list of other area drop-in centers, check http://tinyurl.com/find-mentalhealth-support
Due to changes in programs, always call to see if a center is still offered or if a program is operating.