Government

Johnson County Access Center project progressing

Board of Supervisors asking how cities want to be involved, negotiating for potential site

Johnson county Logo Color
Johnson county Logo Color

CORALVILLE — The Johnson County Board of Supervisors requested feedback from city leaders across the county on just how financially invested they’re willing to be in a crisis intervention “access center.”

A couple dozen city and county staff members and representatives were in attendance to hear the presentation Monday at a Johnson County Joint Entities meeting. Supervisor Lisa Green-Douglass and Iowa City Council member Susan Mims gave an update on the effort to train law enforcement in mental health crisis intervention and a potential care facility.

“We are very, very close to finally bringing this to fruition,” Mims said during the meeting. “Basically where we are now is, along with the county, working on the physical facility.”

The access center is a monthslong project that would include sobering and crisis stabilization units as well as a low-barrier homeless shelter and telemedicine, among other features. The facility would provide law enforcement a more appropriate place to take people in a mental health crisis rather than the emergency room or jail.

Coupled with the facility is an effort to train law enforcement officials in substance abuse issues, homelessness and mental health. It began with officials traveling to San Antonio, Texas, for the training before Johnson County began offering the training itself last year. In all, more than 190 area officials have been trained in crisis intervention, Green-Douglass said during the meeting.

The project got a boost in support when the county agreed to cover any expenses beyond the facility’s operating budget up to $400,000.

Green-Douglass said the county has identified a potential building for the facility, but she said she couldn’t say where because they’re still in the negotiating process. She expected the information to be public soon. Previously, Jessica Peckover, Johnson County Jail alternative coordinator, told The Gazette that it most likely would be located in Iowa City.

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Mims said the county also is working on agreements with the University of Iowa and area nonprofits for services inside the facility.

l Comments: (319) 339-3172; maddy.arnold@thegazette.com

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