MILWAUKEE -- Homeless people in Milwaukee will soon have a new place to call home. A vacant building that was once St. Anthony's Hospital and a detention facility will soon be converted into a 60-unit apartment building.
Boarded up and empty. That is the state of the vacant building that is connected to St. Ben's Parish in Milwaukee. Inside the church, dozens of people gathered on Monday, October 30th to celebrate a groundbreaking -- the building of new temporary homes.
"Those individuals that you have on the street, give them permanent housing, and the result is that the permanent housing becomes a key incubator for seeing improvements in health and mental health," said Wyman Winston, executive director of WHEDA.
At the parish, priests and volunteers tend to hundreds of people a day -- many of them are homeless. Giving what they can -- food, water, shelter and the occasional shower -- can be challenging when there is such great demand.
"It's just too crowded over in our little house. We have one little shower over there. We have a long waiting list everyday, and we're turning people away who want just a basic shower," said Brother Rob Roemer of Capuchin Community Services.
The announcement of a new 60-room facility to act as transitional housing for the mentally ill and ex-cons is a game-changer.
"Now that they have stable housing. That stability has given them the confidence to now look and seek work," Winston said.
The new facility will not only provide shelter and food, but also assist with finding jobs, seeking medical help and becoming independent.
"People need a place to live too, and they have a right to have an adequate place and adequate services for their needs. We got to take care of people, and we're here to take care of people," Roemer said.
The project will cost more than $13 million -- and take roughly a year to complete. Those interested in getting a room at the new facility are encouraged to contact the parish -- and go through the application process.