Jeramey Jannene

Archdiocese To House Homeless During Crisis

Facility that once housed nuns will provide housing for COVID-19 recovery, prevention.

By - Mar 29th, 2020 05:25 pm
Clare Hall. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Clare Hall. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee is temporarily opening an apartment building formerly used to house nuns as a facility to house up to 90 homeless Milwaukee area residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The building has been empty since January in anticipation of future demolition, part of a bigger project by the School Sisters of St. Francis Assisi to develop new housing on the campus.

“This takes a lot of the burden off our shelters and does so in a way that is very responsible,” said Mayor Tom Barrett in announcing the deal on a Sunday afternoon conference call.

Barrett praised the Archdiocese for reaching out to the city with the offer.

“The issue is what do we do to make sure these individuals are safe and what do we do to make sure these individuals don’t infect other people,” said Barrett. The facility will be split into two secured wings. One for primarily older, vulnerable individuals and another for people who are symptomatic.

“This has really been a very large collaborative effort between the city and county,” said Steve Mahan, director of the city’s Community Development and Block Grant Administration.

Mahan said other entities have come forward with necessary supplies, including linens. He singled out The Plaza Hotel, Ingelside Hotel in Pewaukee and Milwaukee-area Marriot hotels for their contributions as well as the Milwaukee County Housing Division. “We are just very thankful,” said Barrett.

The facility is located on the city’s southeast border with St. Francis. The building’s formal address is 3470 S. Illinois Ave. in suburban St. Francis, though the broader complex is partially in both cities.

“Everybody here is stepping up in a way that our community can be proud of,” said Barrett. “We want to continue to do this in a very humane way that is sensitive.”

He said the facility, which is surrounded by a lot of open space, would not create a hot spot and the facility would provide individuals temporary isolation.

Mahan said 14 homeless shelters and the Milwaukee Continuum of Care consortium will provide referrals. The Milwaukee Health Department will oversee the final assignment.

The deal still needs to be formally approved. “The final documents have not been signed between the Archdiocese and the City Attorney,” said Barrett.

The facility could open in the coming week.

Clare Hall was originally built in 1955 and housed seminarians from its opening until 1989. It was originally called after Heiss Hall after the second archbishop of Milwaukee. It is located southwest of Henni Hall, the main building at Saint Francis de Sales Seminary.

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