Oct. 19, 2016 – West Bend, WI – Initial designs released for proposed homeless shelter in West Bend. The $1.3 million project would be privately funded but it would sit on county property. It would be located to the east of Indiana Avenue, just south of the Public Agency Center and overlooking the Little League diamonds.
Below is a letter that will be reviewed during tomorrow’s Washington County Human Services meeting.
From: Eric Diamond, Human Services Administrator
Re:Emergency Shelter and Housing Draft Resolution
No Action Requested at this time; Discussion Only for HSC Should the attached Draft Resolution be approved and Washington County endorse the conceptual proposal of an Emergency Shelter and Housing Program?
The Washington County Homeless Coalition has identified the need for a permanent solution to the issue of homeless singles as a top priority. More than five years ago a local homeless shelter for singles closed their doors and as a result the community has been left with a temporary program. This temporary fix was by no means a safe or sustainable solution to a very serious problem.
As of June 30, 2016 the temporary shelter was shut down leaving Washington County with no available shelter for homeless men and women. The Homeless Shelter and Housing Program will address this gap, bringing together shelter, meals, basic health services, and quality case management for individuals at risk of homelessness in Washington County. The Homeless Shelter and Housing Program is expected to serve approximately 100 individuals who are homeless in Washington County annually.
The Singles Shelter Council (SSC) was recently formed to address the pressing need for a singles shelter in Washington County. The SSC members include representatives from Family Promise of Washington County, St. Vincent DePaul, West Bend Police Department, Salvation Army, Washington County Human Services Department, United Way of Washington County, Friends of Abused Families, the Department of Corrections, and other community members. The immediate goal of the SSC is to develop an emergency shelter for homeless singles. The long-term goal is to provide shelter policy governance, fund shelter operations and provide ongoing program oversight.
The vision of the SSC is to create a permanent emergency shelter solution. The SSC is led by Family Promise of Washington County and will be chaired by a member of the Family Promise Board of Directors. Family Promise of Washington County is a 501(c)3 that has been open for six years locally and part of a national affiliation. The mission of Family Promise is to provide resources and services to individuals and families at risk of homelessness in Washington County. Core programs include the Housing Hotline, Shelter for Families, and Supportive Housing.
The SSC has identified a n ideally located two-acre parcel of Washington County land just south of the Public Agency Center on which to build and operate the Shelter and Housing Program
The location is ideal due to the following:
Its close proximity to Human Services, particularly Acute Care Services (HSD’s 24/7 Mobile Crisis Program). Acute Care Services routinely staff partner with Law Enforcement to help residents access shelter services
This site is not identified in future County building plans
The parcel is currently zoned as institutional and industrial
The site has been supported during the SSC’s initial conversations with City of West Bend Leaders The Community Need for this Project:Today, Washington County has no shelter for homeless singles. This key service gap leaves
homeless individuals on the streets with no shelter options and creates significant community issues:
Individuals who are left homeless, living on the streets, in their cars, storage sheds or other places not meant for human habitation face danger daily. These individuals are vulnerable and likely will engage in chronic public intoxication, loitering, trespassing, shoplifting, drug dealing. Oftentimes they suffer from mental illness and addictions that are left untreated. They are a danger to themselves and other members of our community
Homeless persons are more likely to suffer from chronic medical conditions and complications due to housing instability. These conditions, if left untreated, are a significant barrier to a transition to safe, healthy, and productive lives.
The high utilization rate of emergency rooms, crisis response and public safety systems by homeless individuals place a great strain on already limited city, county, and state financial and health and human service resources. The United States Inter agency Council on Homelessness estimates that a homeless individual can cost between $30,000 -$50,000 annually in emergency services.
Healthy families are broken as a result of homelessness. More than 46% of the individuals served through the singles shelter last year left 65 children without the care and support of their parents. The remaining 54% leave a residual negative impact on their immediate family and friends. Additionally the trauma of homelessness can have a lasting impact on the ability of individuals to turn their lives around. These homeless individuals are someone’s father, mother, son or daughter. They are someone you know.
The Homeless Shelter and Housing Program will address the need for a singles shelter by developing a facility
that is estimated to serve up to 14 individuals daily. The site will offer 24/7 supervision and cas e management services on site. The facility will have space for General Services that include a case manager, meeting room, client work space, separate evening/overnight space for men and w omen to include a living room, kitchen/dining, sleeping
rooms, toilet/shower, laundry, and personal storage area. To support participant transition to independence, the facility will also include supportive housing units.
The Shelter Project will address the safety of individuals and our entire community by providing immediate access to the basic needs of food and shelter for homeless persons.
The Shelter Project will work collaboratively with community service providers to ensure individual health conditions are addressed and that clients have access to basic physical and behavioral health services.
The Shelter Project will reduce stress on limited resources by lowering the high utilization rate of emergency response systems. Community housing partners will connect individuals in shelter to safe and stable housing as quickly as possible.
The Shelter Project will provide wrap-around case management to address situations that prevent individuals from being actively involved i n the lives of their children and families. Additionally, case managers will work with immediate family and friends to assist with reunification.
Washington County is being asked to provide at no cost a two-acre parcel of land just south of the Public Agency Center to Family Promise of Washington County
. Currently the property is rented by another tenant. If approved, there would be a loss in rental revenue. According to the County Attorney’s Office, the current tenant rents 52 acres at a cost of $40 per acre, or $2,080 per year. At this time, should the Emergency Shelter and Housing Project go forward, we are unable to estimate how much of the property would continue to be rented by the current tenant The Shelter Project has put together a comprehensive capital campaign to raise funds to cover the costs of facility development and two years of operating support. The campaign is led by the Singles Shelter Council who is committed to raising the funds necessary to complete the Project.
Saint Vincent DePaul has committed a lead gift of $400,000 to the Project, including $100,000 for capital and $50,000 annually for operations over six years. The long term savings to Human Services, City and County Law Enforcement are difficult to estimate, but significant.