Middlesex County gets $1.65 million in federal funding for crisis diversion

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BILLERICA — The Middlesex County Restoration Center Commission recently announced that it has secured $1.65 million in federal funds to establish a crisis diversion facility at a location to be determined in the county.

The funding was included in a recently approved federal omnibus spending package signed by President Joe Biden on March 15, the commission said in a news release.

The commission is co-chaired by Massachusetts Association for Mental Health President and CEO Danna Mauch and Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian.

In a statement, they thanked U.S. Representative Lori Trahan and U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey for their efforts to secure the funding.

“This marks an important milestone for the efforts we have undertaken over the past four years, as it represents the first direct federal investment in the project,” Mauch and Koutoujian said in their joint statement. “As we move through the study and planning phases and into the implementation phase, this funding will play a vital role in enabling us to begin providing expanded mental health and addictions services to members of our community in crisis.

Kevin Maccioli, director of media relations and public information for the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office, said no final decision had been made on the location of the facility.

The Restoration Center Commission was established under the Criminal Justice Reform Act 2018 and was tasked with studying and making recommendations for the establishment of a crisis diversion center in Middlesex County.

The new center will provide an alternative to arrest or emergency room transport for people in need of behavioral health services. Walk-in services and police drop-off would be available at the center.

Separately, the commission announced that it had secured $5 million in ARPA funding through the state legislature, and Governor Charlie Baker included $1 million in his proposed budget for the fiscal year 2023 for the project.

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