Jeramey Jannene
City Hall

MacCanon Brown Street Renaming Held

For second time. Proposal honors longtime homeless advocate, but Ald. Stamper says no one contacted him.

By - Sep 28th, 2022 12:35 pm
2461 W. Center St. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

2461 W. Center St. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Getting an honorary street name established for longtime homeless advocate MacCanon Brown is turning out to be quite the drawn-out matter.

The Public Works Committee has twice held off acting on a proposal to designate a two-block stretch of N. 24th Pl. as “Sister MacCanon Brown.” MacCanon Brown Homeless Sanctuary is located in a five-story former factory in the middle of the stretch at 2461 W. Center St.

Brown is one of the leading providers of homeless services in Milwaukee and has worked in the field for more than 30 years. A member of the Sisters for Christian Community, Brown was one of the cofounders of Repairers of the Breach, located near N. 13th St. and W. Vliet St., before going on to form her own organization.

“I haven’t spoken with anyone and my office hasn’t been consulted,” said area Alderman Russell W. Stamper, II on Wednesday in asking for the committee to hold the measure for the second time since an application was submitted in June.

Committee chair Ald. Robert Bauman said he would honor Stamper’s request as the council operates on a system of “aldermanic privilege” where deference is given to the local official.

But Bauman is supporting the change. “I hope we can get this worked out by the [Oct. 11] council meeting,” he told the supporters in attendance.

Those supporters include Karen Dumis, a vice president with the sanctuary, and Brown’s longtime friend and former sanctuary volunteer Reuben Harpole. Dumis said that Brown has been honored with proclamations from Mayor Cavalier Johnson, Congresswoman Gwen Moore and State Senator Lena Taylor in the past year.

“She’s like a saint in the community,” said Harpole. “A great lady.”

“I certainly concur,” said Bauman, who also praised Harpole’s longstanding activism.

But Stamper questioned why the designation was being made for his district, instead of near 13th and Vliet in Bauman’s district.

“This is the place where she is truly continuing her legacy,” said Dumis. She said the Center Street facility has been operating for six years.

“That’s understandable, but I haven’t spoken to anybody,” said Stamper,

“We have contacted Ald. Stamper’s office,” said Dumis. Bauman encouraged them to double down and make sure they spoke directly to the alderman. Stamper said he would welcome a call from Harpole, and publicly gave out his cell phone number.

The council has publicly supported Brown’s sanctuary before. In 2021 it approved selling three vacant lots across N. 24th Pl. so that Brown could expand her center’s gardening program beyond raised beds.

The honorary street name designation, according to a Department of Public Works report, would add blue honorary street name signs to two existing green street signs.

Stamper attended an honorary street naming ceremony Saturday morning to honor deceased Olympic track star and congressman Ralph Metcalfe. The designation applies to a portion of N. 34th St. near W. North Ave. The council approves a handful of such designations annually.

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