Future of DHS location uncertain

HANCOCK – Representatives of the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget are considering moving the Department of Human Services office from its location in Hancock, and some people are concerned about the possible move.

The current office at the corner of Tezcuco and Quincy streets is located in the former D&N Bank building. It serves Houghton County. According to the request for proposal from the DTMB, officials would like the new location to be in Hancock or Houghton, with 12,600 square feet of office space and 60 on-site parking spaces. The location must be ready for move-in by Aug. 1. The lease would be for a minimum of 10 years.

The RFPs were due Dec. 7, 2012.

State Rep. Scott Dianda, D-Calumet, said he’s been trying to find out from the state the situation with the DHS building without much success.

The former D&N Bank building is owned by Houghton County, and Dianda said if the DHS left, it would mean a significant loss of revenue to the county.

“They pay $80,000 a year in rent,” he said.

Dianda said there have also been significant upgrades made to the building recently, including a security system installed by the state, and a new boiler installed by the county, which also pays for maintenance on the building.

“On both ends of this, we spend taxpayer money,” he said.

Dianda said although he understands why the state may be looking for a new DHS office location, a map of the areas being considered in Hancock and Houghton shows the Hancock area to be about six blocks, while the Houghton area is most of the city.

“It’s not right and it stinks,” he said.

Hancock City Manager Glenn Anderson said having the DHS offices in Hancock has been important for the city.

“They’ve been in Hancock for 40 to 50 years,” he said.

Besides the D&N building location, Anderson said the DHS offices have been in other downtown Hancock locations, including in the 1970s at 116 Quincy St., which was seriously damaged in a July 2009 fire, but is being rebuilt as apartments with businesses on the ground floor.

Anderson said he appreciates the fact the DHS employees use downtown Hancock businesses.

The DHS clients also use Hancock businesses, Anderson said.

Anderson said he hopes state officials will keep the DHS offices in Hancock.

“We’d be disappointed if they left,” he said.

A representative of the DHS could not be reached for comment by press time.