Per the resolution, My Health My Resources of Tarrant County will operate the facility through Dec. 31, 2023. The motion made by Commissioner Roy Charles Brooks was approved unanimously by the five-member court.
An agenda briefing document outlining the interlocal agreement with MHMR also confirms that the facility will be located at 812 W. Morphy St. in Fort Worth. The building at that location previously was home to a senior living and memory care facility.
The mental health jail diversion center has previously been called “a win for everybody” by Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney Sharen Wilson. It will be utilized as a short-stay alternative to incarceration for people who otherwise would be charged with certain nonviolent offenses and who appear to be experiencing a mental health episode or have a history of mental illness.
Advocates for the facility have said it will help those individuals stay out of the criminal justice system while also giving law enforcement another option for dealing with such instances, as they previously did not have one.
MHMR provides a variety of services for Tarrant County residents, including mental health services, and already provides such services at the Tarrant County Jail. The resolution outlines parameters for the operations agreement, which is in effect for a little more than two years and sets the facility’s operating budget for that time at $14.8 million.
Brooks, an advocate for the center since talks first began, asked county staff to confirm that an advisory committee previously discussed for the facility was still going to be formed. County Administrator G.K. Maenius responded that the committee will be brought before the court within the next several weeks.
“That advisory committee is one that is going to be critical to the success [of the facility],” Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley said. “All of [the involved organizations] will have the ability, on a regular basis, to get together and to discuss those things that are going well and those things that are in need of improvement.”
Earlier this year, the court gave county staff permission to seek out and purchase a property for the facility. According to Maenius, funds provided by the American Rescue Plan Act were used to purchase the building and operate the facility for its first two years.
Commissioner Gary Fickes, whose Precinct 3 includes northeast Tarrant County westward through parts of northern Fort Worth, said one goal of the facility—which will connect those brought to it with services and other help—is to break the cycle of repeat offenders with mental health needs.
“Our hope is that when we do release them, they’re released into a better environment than they were in,” Fickes said. “We can provide them help and stop that chain. ... It’s just a vicious cycle.”