MANATEE -- The final traces of Manasota ARC will be gone soon after its five Manatee group homes were sold off to the parent company of United Cerebral Palsy of Southwest Florida.
ARC, which devoted its services to people who have development disabilities, transferred its operations and programs to UCP Sarasota-Manatee in 2011 after realizing deep funding cuts from the state. The latest transaction is part of a wind-down for ARC.
For $519,072, Manasota ARC sold five group homes to Regional Properties Inc., the nonprofit real estate arm of UCP's parent company Sunrise Community, based in Miami, according to property records.
The group homes are still being used and will remain staffed, said Norma Israel, executive director of UCP of Southwest Florida. As part of the ARC's business deal with UCP, all the assets are supposed to transfer, and soon Manasota ARC will be dissolved. Sunrise offers a wider scope of services compared to ARC and has locations in seven states.
Sunrise began leasing and operating the homes from ARC in July 2012 and exercised to buy ARC's group homes, vehicles and equipment in August, said James Weeks, chief financial officer for Sunrise.
The former ARC executive director Diedra Walker, left UCP recently as its director of operations for another non-profit in Hillsborough County, Israel said, signaling the final high ranking staff member of ARC departing.
So far, things are going well for UCP in Manatee, Israel said. Gov. Rick Scott's Florida Families First budget is providing more than $70 million to remove people with disabilities from various waiting lists for housing placement plus additional money for day and recreational programs. This is the first time in eight years dedicated funding is in place to help the state's disabled population. The cuts to the Medicaid waiver program and state funding cuts are what put Manasota ARC on the brink, facing a deficit of more than $100,000 in its final year.
"The homes are doing well, but we do have some vacancies, which continue to be a struggle, even with the current economic climate," Israel said.
In addition to the group homes, a day program serves about 100 people with disabilities at the former Knights of Columbus building at 2203 30th Ave W., Bradenton.
UCP is leasing the space and intends to close on a purchase of the building by the end of the year, but needs more money to pay for the building, Israel said. The charity has until April to finish a deal, but if a purchase agreement can't be reached, UCP intends to continue its lease, she said.
"We love Manatee County," Israel said.
UCP could use some donations and volunteers to keep the 6-acre center humming, she said.
Arts and craft supplies are needed as well as more staff to teach arts and crafts at the centers. The volunteers will complete a background check at UCP's expense, she said.
"We could take retired persons or people who like to volunteer and teach crafts," she said.
Needed supplies include bicycles, gardening supplies and materials and volunteer labor to construct a dock for a small pond on the property, she said.
To learn more about UCP Sarasota-Manatee call 941.251.4956 or visit ucpsarasota.org.
Charles Schelle, business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @ImYourChuck.