A grand opening ceremony today celebrated the transformation of the former St. Anthony’s hospital into 60 units of supportive housing and a resource center for Milwaukee’s chronically homeless in downtown Milwaukee.
[caption id="attachment_376799" align="alignright" width="365"] Raymond Woods is a resident of St. Anthony Place.[/caption]
The opening of St. Anthony Place is another milestone in the county’s multi-year Housing First initiative to reach “functional-zero” chronic homelessnes, which is defined as having more housing units immediately available than demand.
Milwaukee County executive Chris Abele said Milwaukee has now met that standard.
“From connecting formerly homeless tenants to housing in these new units, to providing housing vouchers to help keep them there, our team has worked hard to make this vision a reality,” said Chris Abele, Milwaukee County executive. “Overall homelessness in Milwaukee County has dropped by 40 percent since we began our Housing First Initiative in 2015, and it’s partnerships like St. Anthony Place that will help us reduce this rate even further.”
Chicago-based nonprofit Heartland Housing, a subsidiary of Heartland Alliance, purchased the building at 1004 N. 10th St. in 2017 from the county. It used the $1.8 million that the county would have paid to demolish the building to help fund the project.
The Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority said Friday it is allocating $554,974 in affordable federal housing tax credits to help finance the project. The project was also financed with state historic preservation tax credits.
The project also received funding from Enterprise Community Investment, U.S. Bank, Zilber Family Foundation, the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco and Capuchin Community Services.
Moving forward, the county is contributing $50,000 annually for support services from the Housing Division and contributing $400,000 annually in the form of 39 housing vouchers for residents.
It is Heartland Housing’s fourth housing development in the city of Milwaukee. Others include Maskani Place at 320 E. Center St., Capuchin Apartments at 2502 W. Tamarack St., and Prairie Apartments at 1218 W. Highland Ave.
“The Capuchins opened St. Anthony Hospital in 1931, and we are excited to partner in the building’s rebirth as supportive housing," said Br. Rob Roemer, OFM Cap, ministry director of Capuchin Community Services. “A lack of affordable housing is a significant root cause of poverty that we see everyday affecting the people served by Capuchin Community Services. We also asked the homeless what was still lacking for them. They stated showers, laundry services and haircuts. We are expanding our services in the lower level of St. Anthony’s to provide these necessities.”
St. Anthony Place resident Raymond Woods previously spent 15 years living on the streets, including under the I-794 overpass and behind the county courthouse. He now lives in what was once a chief medical officer’s office, complete with a fireplace.
Moving into a new apartment, he said, has felt like “happiness and peace.”
In addition to the apartments, the building includes redeveloped space that houses Capuchin Community Services’ homeless outreach programs and Ascension St. Ben’s Clinic. It will also house the Milwaukee County House of Correction’s Day Reporting Center, which provides a community-based alternative to incarceration.
“For nearly four decades, Ascension St. Ben’s Clinic has provided primary and preventive health care services to people who are struggling with homelessness or at risk of homelessness. The addition of permanent, supportive housing will help this community flourish,” said Bernie Sherry, ministry market executive of Ascension Wisconsin. “This collaborative effort embodies the spirit of our mission in action – providing compassionate, personalized care to people who are most vulnerable.”