Lourdes Counseling Center is trying to buy homes - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Lourdes Counseling Center is trying to buy homes from Richland Housing Authority

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RICHLAND, Wash. -- With state budget cuts hitting human services hard, mental health services are taking a big hit. The effects can be seen in community jails, hospitals and counseling centers.

That's why staff at Lourdes Counseling Center in Richland has a plan in the works to reach out to those in need.  LCC serves the majority of chronically -- persistently mentally ill in the Franklin and Benton Counties. LCC serves approximately 2000 Medicaid Adults each month who suffer from chronic and persistent mental illnesses; half of which need some form of housing support in order to maintain placement in the community.

The Richland Housing Authority has been providing a place to live for many mentally ill patients for quite some time.  But since they closed down in 2009, some of those homes are going into foreclosure.  Instead of letting the bank take them, LLC is trying to buy two homes, for about $50,000 remaining balance.

If The Housing Authority were to let them go into foreclosure, they would have to give back a grant they received from Regional Support Network for mental health support.

One of the programs LLC runs is called Shelter Plus Care..  Its permanent housing for those patients who need constant mental care.  They get treated, live in a home, pay a portion of the rent and the remainder is paid for by  HUD through the Department of Human Health Services.  LLC has 11 patients in the program in Benton and Franklin Counties.

LLC wants to buy two homes from the Richland Housing Authority for about $75,000 total, the remaining $25,000 for repairs.  Banner Bank is working with them to finance the deal.

"Its really important for this community because we lack housing for folks who have mental illness. And without those homes, these folks will end up in jail or inpatient or homeless ..So as part of our mental health support system, these homes are very important," says Tim Hoekstra, the Director of Outpatient Services Lourdes Counseling Center.

Hoekstra says the down-stream effect is that the public will end up paying more for these patients in the long-run. Proper treatment and support benefits the patient, their families, and the community.

The next step is meeting with Franklin County Commissioners on Wednesday, where they hope to get written consent for the sale to happen.