Courage MKE, the nonprofit operator of a home on Milwaukee’s south side for displaced LGBTQ+ youth, announced this week that it has purchased a building on Milwaukee's south side, which will serve as C2 Apartments.
The facility, located at 2030 W. National Ave., will be the first of its kind in the state and will serve as a supported independent living program for LGBTQ+ young adults that are homeless or aging out of the social welfare system.
“This is a new chapter in Courage MKE’s already powerful story in metro Milwaukee and in the State of Wisconsin,” said Dan Terrio, board president of Courage MKE. “We stand committed to ensuring our young people are prepared with the life skills, knowledge, and most of all, the support to become thriving, authentic community members. We believe this project will do just that.”
In March 2019, Courage MKE opened The Courage House – a licensed group home serving youth ages 12-17 with counselling, health care, life skills and family reunification. Since opening, the nonprofit has received national accreditation for group homes as well as a qualified residential treatment program certification from the state of Wisconsin in 2022.
But there is demand for housing for youth ages 17-24 who have little or no support systems in place, including residents aging out of Courage’s current home at 1544 S. Sixth St, co-founder and executive director Brad Schlaikowski told BizTimes Milwaukee in 2021.
“We stand by our belief that these young adults must continue to be in an inclusive and safe environment that allows them to be their authentic selves as they work toward preparing for adulthood on their own,” said Schlaikowski in a media statement Thursday.
That belief inspired the concept of C2 apartments. The Ali Forney Center in New York City – the largest LGBT-serving community center in the country – has provided guidance and support to Courage MKE through the Technical Assistance Mentoring program since 2020.
“Once youth who have experienced homelessness are housed, they often have difficulty following rules and are evicted. By Courage holding the lease, we will be more than trauma-informed landlords and coach residents on landlord relationships,” said Jean Northway, program director of Courage MKE.
The C2 Apartments building will be undergoing renovations through spring and summer of 2023 with an anticipated opening of winter 2023 as a home for seven young adults, said the press release. There would be 24/7 staff to help with daily living skills such as budgeting and cooking.
“Most independent living apartments are just that – living alone. We envision common living areas to unwind together, watch TV together, and cook meals together,” said Northway. “For young adults who have been told that who they are is not ok, being around other people who 'get it’ is comforting. We don’t just want our youth housed – our youth deserve to feel safe and supported at home.”