ST. PAUL, Minn. - By the end of the month, the Apollo Resource Center will close its doors. The funds to run the center have dried up.
The Apollo provides people suffering from mental illness a place to gather, learn, and support one another. Thirty clients who have been diagnosed with a mental illness depend on the center every day; they have served thousands over the course of several decades.
"Apollo Center is slated to close. It's done because we're losing the money," Dr. Tim Burkett, CEO of People, Inc., the company that runs the center, explained.
"I was shocked, it's like being punched in the stomach," Roger, a man who has been coming to Apollo for more than a dozen years, explained. "It means a lot to me. There are two places I go. The library and this place here. It's a chance for me to be with my peers," he said.
Apollo workers help the clients by offering life management seminars as well as support to help them with independent living. The entire facility and program is run on $300,000 annually but that funding was reallocated by the Ramsey County Board in January.
"We really were trying to get better outcomes and more outcomes for our bucks," Dave Haley with Ramsey County Community Human Services said. He notes the money will go to critical job placement programs for the mentally ill, and admits it was a difficult decision. "This is all part of that continuing process to try and do better by the folks we're serving and try to do better by the dollars we have available," Haley explained.
Dr. Burkett says he's not upset with the board and he understands the budget crunch. He will continue to spend time talking to state lawmakers to increase funding for programs that help the mentally ill. "Although we changed our paradigm and psychologically are offering much more support for folks with mental illness, the money has not been following," he told KARE 11. State lawmakers are expected to cut millions more from human services as they sort through the budget this spring.
The Apollo has served people since 1976. They'll lock the doors for the last time on the final day of the month. Dr. Burkett says it is the last "drop-in" facility for the mentally ill in Ramsey County.
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