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Johnson County supervisors consider crisis intervention facility land purchase

If approved, center could be built near Shelter House

IOWA CITY — The yearslong effort to construct a crisis intervention facility in Johnson County could clear its next major hurdle Thursday night.

The Johnson County Board of Supervisors is expected to vote on whether to ratify a purchase agreement for 270 Southgate Ave. during its formal meeting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Johnson County Administration Building. If the $1.35 million purchase is approved, a Behavioral Health Urgent Care Center likely would be built on the 5.34-acre property, near other social services and nonprofits like Shelter House.

The facility would likely provide a number of different services such as sobering and crisis stabilization units as well as a low-barrier homeless shelter. The goal is to provide law enforcement a more appropriate place to take those in a mental health crisis, rather than just jail or the emergency room.

The planning stages of the countywide effort ramped up in recent months. In mid-May, the county hired Matt Miller as project manager to help shepherd the facility into fruition.

The project previously was referred to as an “access center.” However, after the Iowa Legislature passed this year House File 2456, mandating six different types of “access centers” across the state as part of a mental health treatment expansion — and concerns the name wasn’t descriptive enough — project organizers began operating under the working title of Behavioral Health Urgent Care Center.

Linn County supervisors are taking steps of their own to create a similar center in Linn County.

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