Feature Photo: Discussions are underway on doing a major renovation to the Nueces Center for Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities office building. Image: Google Streets.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Corpus Christi (Nueces County) — The Nueces Center for Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities (MHID) has approached the county Commissioners Court for funding to renovate its building to establish a non-violent offenders diversion center.
Mark Hendrix, MHID’s operations director, spoke to the commissioners on July 7 about renovating their facility at 1630 S. Brownlee Blvd. for use as the Nueces County Diversion Center.
Hendrix gave a preliminary estimate of between $1.5 million to $2 million to get their building to comply with regulatory standards. He said this would amount to about $100 to $150 per square foot, and provide up to 36 diversion beds.
The four-story office building is approximately 40 years old and has an area of 18,100 square feet.
Hendrix’s presentation was informational only. Commissioners Court will take up the request again at their first August session, according to County Judge Barbara Canales.
The first steps for a mental health diversion program took effect in 2018 when MHID collaborated with Commissioners Court and the Sheriff’s Office to organize crisis intervention teams and provide mental health screening as persons are processed into the county jail.
This phase of the program has the goal of providing a pre-arrest diversion program for persons who commit or are charged with low-level, non-violent crimes.
The Diversion Center would provide a single point of drop-off for law enforcement; reduce unnecessary arrests and hospitalizations; have 24-hour monitoring, support and engagement; access to psychiatric medication management and treatment; it would be a recovery oriented program and would operate in collaboration with law enforcement and the District Attorney’s Office.
Hendrix said the treatment period for each person admitted would average seven to 14 days, but could be as long as three weeks.
While speaking in support of a future action item on this request, Canales sites a notice issued by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards that gave the county a 30-day deadline to submit a new plan.
“This needs to be part and parcel of it,” Canales said. “What Mark and (MHID CEO) Mike Davis and their board have been discussing is they own the building. They could lease this building to Nueces County, who could then avail themselves of, quite frankly, a lot of opportunities for money at the state and federal level … to work on a remediation for this building.”
Canales said the funding could be raised in short order. She anticipates that over the next several weeks county staff will do the research necessary for Commissioners Court to come back and take action on authorizing negotiations between the county and MHID on a memorandum of understanding.
VBX Project ID 2021-50AE