Graham Kilmer

New Homeless COVID-19 Shelter Opens

County, city, National Guard, archdiocese partner on facility for homeless at risk for disease.

By - Mar 30th, 2020 05:58 pm
Clare Hall. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Clare Hall. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

An empty building owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee started sheltering homeless Milwaukee area residents Monday night to treat and isolate them during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Clare Hall, 3470 S. Illinois Ave., which formerly housed nuns, will shelter up to 90 homeless individuals. The building will be split into two wings, one for individuals that are symptomatic, the other for vulnerable individuals, like homeless that are elderly or have underlying health conditions, said James Mathy, housing administrator for the Milwaukee County Department of Health and Humans Services.

It was first announced Sunday that the facility would be used to house the homeless.

This is a vast partnership through all different levels of government,” Mathy said. The City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee County and the Wisconsin Army National Guard partnered on the project and have been working for the past few weeks to find a suitable place to shelter homeless Milwaukee area residents.

Referrals are coming from homeless shelters, healthcare providers, street level outreach teams and the Milwaukee Continuum of Care partners. The facility is being staffed by the City of Milwaukee Health Department and the National Guard, whose medics are providing health services for the individuals sheltered there.

The county’s Housing Division is also providing housing navigation services for individuals when they are discharged to try to get them into permanent housing. “So this is a place for vulnerable folks with nowhere to go,” Mathy said.

Mathy said the first referrals coming in Monday night included one from a health care partner, one from a local shelter and a few individuals that were sleeping on the street.

A number of companies and organizations have donated supplies to the shelter. For example, IKEA donated furniture. Other donors include the United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County, the Plaza Hotel in Milwaukee, Ingleside Hotel in Pewaukee, Hampton Inn on College Avenue in Milwaukee and Homewood Suites Milwaukee Downtown.

The partners are also accepting donations  from the general public. Things like toiletries, games, paper products or any personal items that can keep people busy while they are in isolation, Mathy said.

The Mayor of St. Francis, Ken Tutaj, said to the partners, “I just want to say thank you for everything you’re doing.”

Amy Grau, communications director for the archdiocese, said, “Clare Hall seemed to be the perfect fit.” Grau said using the facility for this purpose was in line with the archdiocese’s Catholic values. “It just made sense to be able to assist our community during this crisis, if we can.”

Clare Hall

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