Benton Harbor MDHHS location reopens — search continues for alternative space


After closing their doors for more than a month to remediate a reported black mold contamination, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services offices in Benton Harbor are once again open – but with limited operations. 

While the public does not yet have approved access to the building, a spokesperson for MDHHS confirmed staff are being allowed back into the building, but not all at once.

“Staff will begin moving back into the building in phases. Throughout the week, services will continue to be available to families via phone at 269-934-2000 or 844-864-3447, online at MIBridges, and through office hours Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. at the Benton Harbor Michigan Works, 499 West Main Street in Benton Harbor.”

While the offices are reopened at their current location, MDHHS is looking for alternative office space. A spokesperson for the Department of Technology, Management & Budget (DTMB) said a formal Request for Proposal for significantly smaller office space closed on May 2 and submissions will be reviewed.

While DTMB helps with the search for a new MDHHS office in Benton Harbor, the State of Michigan is currently paying $149,571 per month for the 75,000 square feet of space, totaling about $1.8 million per year. If MDHHS is still renting the space at this time next year, the monthly rental increases to $153,262 per month.

The DTMB confirmed the new space requirement listed in the State’s RFP is about 22,000 square foot of office space, or about one-third of what they’re currently renting and not fully occupying.

“The current facility’s square-footage is much larger than the allocation of MDHHS employees for this office and was not fully utilized even prior to the pandemic. The Unemployment Insurance Agency, Michigan Rehab Services, and the prosecutor’s office were also tenants in the building. MRS will now share space with the Michigan Works office, and the prosecutor’s office has moved to another location. MRS and the local prosecutor’s office space requirements were not included in the latest RFP.”

Both State Senate Republican Leader Aric Nesbitt and State House Representative Joey Andrews have expressed concerns about the MDHHS facility being closed to the public without notice due to the health hazard.