St. Joseph County Commissioners vote to close Portage Manor following community proposals

NOW: St. Joseph County Commissioners vote to close Portage Manor following community proposals

SOUTH BEND, Ind - The St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners voted to close Portage Manor on Tuesday. The assisted living facility houses community members with mental illness and disabilities.

The decision follows months of back and forth on what to do with Portage Manor, which continues to struggle financially.

Mark Huffman, a current resident, has lived at Portage Manor for over 30 years.

After decades of getting assistance, he's not sure where he and the rest of his found family will go.

“We will still have the family of residents together so it would be, so that would be a good plan, to possibly get us a different building and move into that building together,” said Huffman.

Back in March, St. Joseph County leaders opened proposals for what to do with Portage Manor.

In the end, the only person willing to take over the facility was Dr. Sylvana Atallah, a Granger physician.

County commissioners said her plan isn't enough to keep Portage Manor afloat.

Now, there are negotiations to move many residents to Valley View Healthcare in Elkhart, but those like Huffman have their concerns.

“I've been here for 33 years, I know this area really well,” he said. “If I went to Elkhart, I'd have to learn a whole new area again, so it wouldn’t be that easy of a transition."

St. Joseph County Commissioner, Derek Dieter, was one member that voted to close the facility.

Dieter tells me he feels government should not be in the business of mental health.

“Again, this is not an easy decision, I know there have been people who lived there for a long time but just the conditions of the building for the future of the residents, for the future of the staff. I think this is the right thing,” said Dieter.

Councilwoman Amy Drake, who sent a recommendation today with councilman Joe Thomas to close the facility, feels that closing Portage Manor and moving its residents is what's best to get them the proper care.

“We found a possible community partner which we would allow a lot of our residents to come together as a group, because there is a very family kind of feeling about Portage Manor and we wanted as many people to be together as possible, and we might have an option that can do that nearby , so we’re very hopeful that will work out,” said Drake

The decision now moves to the St. Joseph County Council, who will make the final vote on June 13th.

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