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Minn. State Senator to fight for Hiawatha Valley Mental Health state funding

WINONA, Minn. (WXOW) – Minnesota State Senator Jeremy Miller toured the Hiawatha Mental Health Center Board and Lodge Wednesday Morning.

Miller saw first hand the conditions of the living center. He also spoke with some residents and heard their stories of recovery. Many of the residents living in the Hiawatha Mental Health Center have lived there for years and rely on the housing for a community support.

The organization provides long term permanent housing for adults with serious mental health conditions. The facility currently houses 10 people and has a total of four Board and Lodge Facilities in Winona.

Executive director Erik Sievers says the organization could use some state funding to maintain a minimum standard of living.

“We are grateful for the funding we currently receive from the state and other sources to keep the homes operating, but are greatly challenged to maintain the homes to the standard that people need and deserve,” Sievers said. “We feel it is important to show others what we provide and the value of long term housing to those in need.”

Miller’s walk through of the facility included the living room, kitchen, a bedroom with an attached bathroom and a few other living spaces. Miller plans to take what he learned back to the Legislature to fight for funding for the Hiawatha Mental Health Center.

“Seeing successful organizations like this and the services that they provide is really helpful so we know that the money that’s being invested at the state level is really going to be put to good use. I can’t think of a better example than right here with Hiawatha Valley Mental Health, ” Miller said. “I think we can use what they’re doing here in Winona as a model statewide and maybe improve services throughout the state because of the good work that they’re doing here in this region.”

The Mental Health Center Residential Director Mike Fahey says that more funding from the state would benefit them in more ways than one. Some clients have been with Hiawatha Valley for over 20 years so the conditions of the house are important to the staff.

“We would continue to provide direct resident services, for medication management, housing and also just for programming, resources for folks that need assistance with seeing their psychiatrist or therapist,” Fahey said. “This is a model of housing that’s unique. It provides an opportunity for our clients to become more self sufficient, responsible and independent with some part time staffing, so it’s a unique model. It’s another step towards people becoming more healthy and taking care of themselves.”

Each home provides supervision and assistance with living. Each home can hold up to 10 adults that have a mental health diagnosis.

Abigail Moore

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