MILWAUKEE -- Some people this week, as the bitter cold has taken hold, have been scrambling to find warmth. As shelters fill up, and as winter wears on, officials in the city of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County are working together to get those who are chronically homeless off the street permanently.
The Thurgood Marshall Apartments complex is planned for N. 6th Street in Milwaukee. It will be a 24-unit building that will house those who are considered chronically homeless. That involves a period of homelessness that lasts for one year or longer -- or at least four periods of homelessness over three years.
The Thurgood Marshall Apartments building is part of a broader plan.
It was a hot summer day when city of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County officials came together to plan for winter.
"We wanted to end chronic homelessness -- get it to a functional zero with permanent housing within three years," Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele said.
It's a big task, but there's already been substantial progress made.
"We are up to 98 individuals that we`ve housed since September 1st, so our goal was to serve 100 people within 12 months. We are way ahead of schedule on that," James Mathy, Milwaukee County housing administrator said.
When it comes to those who are chronically homeless, one of the recent counts showed 195 individuals and families. The goal of this united effort between the city of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County officials is to be able to serve 300 through a Housing First initiative that includes the new Thurgood Marshall Apartments and other housing.
"We are working with existing landlords that like to partner with us on initiatives like this -- so they are regular apartments throughout Milwaukee County," Mathy said.
This effort is making a difference when it comes to homeless shelters in Milwaukee.
"What its also going to do is free up spots for families and individuals who have a temporary crisis -- particularly in the cold weather," Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said. "I think it's very important on the human level to make sure individuals have a place to live that they can call home."
Another "point-in-time" homeless count will take place during the next few weeks.
Authorities will then have a better idea how many families still need housing.
The Thurgood Marshall Apartments complex should be ready for occupancy by October 2016. There, folks will have more than just a home. They will also be able to access resources to deal with alcohol, depression and mental health issues.
If you would like to take part in this program, you're asked to dial 211 to learn more.