By Rachel Lippmann, KWMU
St. Louis, MO – Madison County has settled a lawsuit over its decision to close a facility for the developmentally disabled and mentally ill.
Under the agreement reached last month and unveiled Wednesday, the county will shutter its Sheltered Care Home on Friday. In exchange, the county will provide any additional financial support the residents need over the next ten years in their new placements, which will be funded using any money that isn't spent this year on a new facility in Collinsville.
John Ammann, the director of the legal clinic at Saint Louis University, represented former residents of the Sheltered Care Home in the lawsuit.
"It's a difficult time for them," he said. "Many of them have lived at the home more than 20 years, they don't want to leave. It's a difficult transition to move for anybody, but particularly when you have a disability or a mental illness."
Many of the residents, Ammann said, believe their new placements aren't as good as Sheltered Care. But Madison County board chairman Alan Dunstan says closing the home is more in line with what doctors consider "best practices" in treating the mentally ill and developmentally disabled.
"The trend is to get away from the institutionalized setting, and come into a more neighborhood-based type housing, and that's what the county was doing," he said.
Dunstan says the closure will save Madison County $1 million a year.