County’s first homeless shelter opens

Family Promise converts former Port Washington day care center into facility that will help it meet need for temporary emergency housing

A CELEBRATION COMPLETE with a ribbon cutting was held Tuesday to mark the completion of Portlight Shelter, a homeless shelter in Port Washington to be operated by Family Promise of Ozaukee County. Cutting the ribbon Tuesday were (from left) Ozaukee County Administrator Jason Dzwinel, Family Promise CEO Cori Guerin, Board President Connie Pukaite and Port Washington Mayor Ted Neitzke. Photos by Sam Arendt

Portlight Shelter at the corner of Sunset Road and Highway LL in Port Washington opened with a flourish Tuesday.

Family Promise of Ozaukee County held an open house for the community to visit the shelter at 1505 Sunset Rd., with a ribbon cutting ceremony and reception.

The agency, which opened its doors in 2015, has spent much of the last year converting a former day care center into the county’s first homeless shelter.

It expanded the 4,763-square-foot building by 2,477 square feet, constructing two wings, each with two suites for clients, and another four suites in the central part of the building.

There’s a shared laundry room, kitchen and large gathering space for meals and programs.

Although the need for a shelter may not be apparent to everyone, Family Promise has been helping people who are homeless or at risk of being homeless in the county since 2015.

It has provided thousands of nights of shelter to individuals and families and helped provide funds for security deposits and rent assistance.

Initially, the agency operated a shelter program that housed people in area churches, but with the pandemic it was forced to pivot. The agency rented rooms at a motel to house clients, but had a waiting list.

That prompted the agency to seek a place of its own. It received $2.3 million from a Community Development Block Grant coronavirus program that was awarded to Ozaukee County — funds that will pay the cost of the building, renovations and the first year of operation.

The Portlight Shelter isn’t the drop-in type facility most people think of when they hear of a homeless shelter. It’s part of a program aimed at helping people get back on their feet.

The shelter will house as many as 20 adults and children at one time, and clients must participate in weekly case management meetings.

Those housed at the shelter will be there for a maximum 90 days, Family Promise representatives told City of Port officials, although the average stay is about 47 days.




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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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Port Washington, WI 53074
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