by Kaylyn Hlavaty for Cleveland 5 News

November 20, 2020

CLEVELAND — Cuyahoga County announced the creation of a diversion center that would serve as an option for people with mental illness and addiction instead of jail, County Executive Armond Budish announced during Friday's COVID-19 briefing.

"Our jails have been the biggest repositories for people with mental illness and addiction. And yet, jails are not the best place for these folks to get treatment. Then to further shatter their lives, they wind up in the criminal system," said Budish. "When police pick up someone suffering from mental illness or addiction, often for minor crimes like disturbing the peace, there’s often no good place to take them. So the police in many cases take them to jail."

The initial home of the diversion center will be located at East 55th Street and Euclid Avenue. Operated by Orianna House, under the supervision of the ADAMHS Board, the diversion center will act as a place for crisis intervention and stabilization, rather than the troubled county jail. It's scheduled to open during the first quarter of next year.

The diversion center will offer:

  • Short term, temporary housing for approximately 50 individuals daily
  • Day treatment
  • Case management
  • Behavioral health and substance abuse counseling and support services
  • County-provided services for enrollment in benefit programs such as Social Security Disability and Medicaid
  • County-provided employment/vocational training services to facilitate entry or re-entry into the workforce system
  • Coordination of patient needs after their on-site care and space for linking patients to other service needs such as Medicaid assistance

The diversion center will have 50 beds and will provide treatment for up to nine days. After nine days, professionals will provide referrals for longer-term treatment to experienced community organizations.

Police around Cuyahoga County will receive training from the ADAMHS Board to identify people eligible for diversion and to de-escalate situations.

The board will provide a 24/7 phone line to answer questions and provide immediate advice to law enforcement.

Cuyahoga County will evaluate other sites for a permanent location in the future.

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