At their height in the 1960s, 14 state-run facilities served thousands of adults with mental and physical disabilities, whose families could not care for them. Today, there are five public centers left, spread throughout the state.
“We're due to close these centers. Other states have closed theirs,” said Nancy Murray, president of The Arc of Greater Pittsburgh, which serves Allegheny, Beaver and Westmoreland counties. “They're too costly, and people don't need to live in an institution. All these people can live in a house somewhere and be able to enjoy their life that way.”
Murray noted that the state center population is aging and declining, mostly through death and attrition. The census of the Hamburg State Center in Berks County, targeted for closure next year, has dropped by 90 percent in more than four decades – from 850 in 1970 to 75 in 2017