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Published: Wednesday, 4/21/2010

Monroe County asked to support Fairview shelter

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

MONROE - The Monroe County commissioners gave the go-ahead last week to place a levy on the August ballot that would raise money to keep open Fairview, the county-funded transitional shelter for the chronic homeless and disabled people.

Up to 0.2 mills could be levied on property owners to operate and maintain the 19th century county infirmary if the additional property tax is approved.

Without the influx of money, the commissioners will likely shutter the facility at the end of the year because they need to cut costs to reduce the county's growing annual deficit.

The commissioners voted last year to make money available to fund Fairview through December.

The staff at the facility also were directed to stop accepting new admissions in March because of uncertainty of whether the tax request would pass.

The tax issue will appear on the Aug. 3 primary ballot.

Laura Papenhagen, superintendent of Fairview, said the facility takes in about 80 people who are provided with medical, health, and social service assistance to help them transition into independent living.

She said Fairview acts as transitional shelter, where clients get health-care management and case management and works with other agencies such as Michigan Rehabilitation Services and Monroe Community Mental Health.

"They can be here for as little as two months or up to two years," Ms. Papenhagen said. "We are working with them to be as independent as possible," she said.

Fairview, licensed by the state as an adult foster care home, can house up to 36 people.

If passed, the levy will raise nearly $1.1 million annually for 10 years to operate, equip, maintain, and upgrade the Fairview program.

Plans call for using some of the money to restore services and staffing that were eliminated or reduced because of budget cuts in recent years.

Fairview's plan of action for continuation under the tax millage calls for adding a social worker to allow its programs to reach more people and additional contracts with health professionals to take care of patients' medical needs.

Additional staff would also be hired because of the around-the-clock care needed by some patients.

One mill is equal to $1 per $1,000 of taxable property. A 0.2-mill levy will cost owners of a $120,000 home with a taxable value of $60,000 about $12 per year.

Volunteers and supporters of the facility have formed the Committee to Save Fairview, and have set up the Web site: http://savefairviewmonroe.com to provide information about the program for voters.

Bonnie Finzel-Doster, chairman of the group, said closing Fairview will cause a greater financial impact on the community because many of the people its serves will end up in hospital emergency rooms and cycled through the criminal justice system.

"Most of them cannot work and cannot support themselves. They end up on the street," she said.



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