While residents at the House of Hope Mission Teens, Inc., were recently forced out of the facility due to state code issues, Assistant Director Brian Rosano reiterated to The Brazil Times the organization has not closed.
"We are still open and we do have about 15 staff and associates working here," Rosano said. "We're not closed. Our doors aren't closed and we're not going to be closed anytime soon."
In December, the Indiana State Fire Marshal's Office conducted two inspections and found the building was not in compliance with state code.
According to the findings, the building needed major upgrades, including a fire alarm system, work on handicap accessible exits, a sprinkler system, and more. In addition, officials with the Fire Marshal's Office found there were electrical and plumbing issues with the building.
As a result, an emergency notice was placed on the front door of the building in early January and occupants of the facility, located at 5525 W. United States 40, Brazil, were ordered by the Fire Marshal's Office to leave by Feb. 4.
The inspections were conducted after a former resident contacted the state and lodged a complaint, according to Rosano.
All occupants were ordered to leave the facility that date and approximately two-thirds of them were transferred to other facilities in Illinois, Tennessee and Arkansas, Rosano said.
The issue at hand, according to Rosano, is how the state sees the program.
House of Hope purchased the property in 1999 and was given occupancy by the City of Brazil. While the organization considers itself a church, the state calls it a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility, thus the need for the upgrades.
Rosano recently told The Times officials with House of Hope have been working with an architectural firm assessing possible costs for the upgrades.
"The architects are going through the codes," Rosano said. "We're looking to attempt to do this cost effectively.
"Right now, we're waiting. We had an assessment done by an architect. That assessment is very high. There's still a lot of planning to be done."
However, Rosano said he is optimistic the organization will have a plan for the state soon.
"We're hoping by April, we're in Indianapolis to go ahead with some things," he said. "It could be two more months on the renovation plans."
Rosano said the organization has plans to raise approximately $150,000 for the upgrades.
"The costs are astronomical," he said. "But we're working with the state."
He added House of Hope has several upcoming fundraisers in the works, including a Pancake Breakfast, scheduled to take place from 8 a.m.-noon, Saturday, March 12, at the YMCA of Clay County, 225 E. Kruzan St., Brazil. A $5 donation will cover each person served and proceeds will go toward building renovations.
Rosano said other fundraisers are currently being planned, including a spring fair with musical acts, a bake sale and silent auction in addition to the organization's annual yard sale.
"The fundraising is getting underway and doing well so far," Rosano said. "I would say that our monthly donations for January were about double what they are (regularly). But since the news broke originally, a lot of our regular help with everyday items has drastically decreased.
"As far as raising money for what we're going to need, we may have raised 5 percent of it, but we haven't had any major fundraisers yet. If the pace keeps up, we're estimating sometime early next year to be back open and possibly sooner."
House of Hope is a faith ministry affiliated with Mission Teens, Inc., based in New Jersey. The organization was founded by Rev. James D. Bracken in 1969, and has 15 facilities across the country.