Hamburg Center closing touches lives in northern Berks

 

The end is near for a state-run facility in Berks County that has long been home to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) announced Tuesday that it will officially close the Hamburg Center in Windsor Township on August 3.

That date will come 19 months after the closure was announced as part of the Wolf administration's commitment to reduce reliance on institutional care and improve access to home- and community services.

"Research shows that when an individual with an intellectual or developmental disability lives in a community setting, quality of life improves, and more opportunities arise for social participation, community integration, relationships with family and friends, and employment," said DHS Secretary Teresa Miller. "Transitioning residents of the Hamburg State Center will help them grow and thrive in new ways and sets the foundation for a long-term increased quality of life."

At the time the closure was announced in January 2017, Hamburg was serving 80 residents and employing about 350 people at its 154-acre campus. At one time, it was reported to house more than 900 people.

The residents have since transitioned to community-based centers, and most of the employees have either transferred to other state jobs or have retired, officials said.

The Hamburg facility originally opened in 1914 as the Charles H. Miner State Hospital, which cared for people with tuberculosis. It closed in 1959 and reopened in 1960 as a center for people with intellectual disabilities.

The state has not said what plans it has for the the Hamburg center or its 39 buildings.

"We are very interested in bringing new jobs to this site," said state Sen. David Argall. "Several developers have shown considerable interest. Now that we have an exact closing date, we can move forward."

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