Homeless shelter plan ready to roll pending OKs

Group would buy former Port day care center if county signs off on Portlight project
By 
KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Ozaukee Press staff

The Ozaukee County Human Services Board is expected to consider an agreement with Family Promise next week that will pave the way for a homeless shelter to be established in Port Washington.

The agreement, if approved by the board, would need to be ratified by the County Board on July 7.

“We’re waiting for them to give us the green light to proceed. We’re looking forward to getting going,” Family Promise Chief Executive Officer Kathleen Christenson Fisher said. “We have a great project lined up. The community’s definitely gotten behind us.”

The shelter, to be called the Portlight shelter, will be created at a former day care center at the corner of Sunset Road and Highway LL.

It will be funded by a $1.8 million Community Development Block Grant coronavirus program awarded to Ozaukee County.

That amount is enough to cover the cost of acquiring the site and constructing two wings on the building, as well as architect fees, administration and a year of shelter operations, Fisher said.

“There are still things we need to raise money for,” she said, including equipment, furnishings and future operational costs. 

The shelter would house as many as 20 people at a time, officials have said. Those housed at the shelter would be there for a maximum 30 days and must participate in weekly case management meetings aimed at getting them back on their feet.

The agency is in the process of creating a fundraising campaign, she said, with an initial goal of raising $500,000.

Family Promise has been helping the homeless in Ozaukee County for the past five years, initially housing clients at area churches.

That ended with the Covid-19 pandemic, so the agency worked with a local motel to provide 10 rooms for people in need.

“We’ve been at full capacity since,” Fisher said. “Our phone continues to ring. We’re very concerned about what will happen after the eviction moratorium ends (on June 30).”

In 2020, she said, Family Promise served 56 households — 23 families and 33 individuals — and so far this year has served 30 households, including 11 families and 19 individuals.

In addition, through the end of May it has provided $501,500 in utility and rent assistance to 105 households through the Wisconsin Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which is intended to help people whose income was affected by the pandemic, Fisher said.

Fisher said Family Promise expects to purchase the property for the shelter in the next month or two, with construction expected to begin in September.

“We’d like to have our doors be open in spring 2022,” she said.

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