The Dane County Board held a public hearing focused on the Department of Human Services proposed budget Wednesday.

The Dane County Department of Human Services 2018 budget totals $224,742,708, a decrease of approximately $71 million from the 2017 budget.

This change does not reflect service reduction, but rather relocation of such services to the state level, Lynn Green, director of Department of Human Services of Dane County, said.

“This has been the most challenging budget in my fifteen years as director,” Green said.

As a result, many concerns from the public have risen, especially regarding the negative impact of this budget on homeless people suffering from mental illnesses.

An immediate consequence will be the removal of spaces like Safe Haven, which provides temporary housing for homeless people with mental illness.

The closing of Safe Haven in late December due to loss of funding will likely result in hospitalization and jail time for this population, instead of the assistance they truly need to readjust to living in an ideal situation such as psychiatric services and temporary shelter, Lindsey Wallace, executive director at National Alliance on Mental Illness Dane County, said.

“We encourage the county to explore all options that may help Safe Haven continue serving some of Dane County’s most vulnerable citizens” Wallace said.

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More concerns were voiced by community members related to the fate of Community TIES, a Waisman Center program offering support to children, adolescents and adults with developmental disabilities who reside in Dane County.

Danny Thurman, a single mother of twin boys with autism and epilepsy, said she has relied on such services for more than nine years.

One program that would be cut is LOV-Dane, a program heavily defended by community members. The organization, which builds communities for individuals living with disabilities, is expected to lose funding March 31, 2018.

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Community member Tonya Brito urged for the continuation of such services for the entire year on behalf of her son, who has benefited from services like LOV-Dane.

“They provide him with vital and much needed social connections from the community, social connections that he is not able to and maintain on his own,” Brito said.

The budget is set to be finalized in November.