St. Francis Seminary Building Will House Homeless During Coronavirus Crisis

16 hours ago

The number of COVID-19 cases in Milwaukee County surpassed 600 over the weekend. Wisconsin residents are supposed to stay at home as much as possible to stop the transmission of the disease. But what about people who don’t have stable or permanent housing?

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Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett announced a new solution on Sunday: People who are homeless and especially vulnerable to the coronavirus will be housed in a vacant seminary building in Saint Francis.

"The issue we’re trying to deal with here is the issue of people with unstable housing right now — homeless people who are perhaps older, homeless people who might be at risk of catching this disease," Barrett said in an online news conference Sunday. "And with congestion in our housing shelters, the issue is what do we do to make sure these individuals are safe? And what do we do to make sure they don’t infect other people?"

Barrett said the city and county have worked with the Milwaukee Archdiocese to set up Clare Hall as temporary housing during the public health crisis. Clare Hall is on the Saint Francis de Sales seminary grounds, along Lake Michigan, just south of Milwaukee. In the past, it housed seminarians and then retired Catholic sisters.

One wing of the building will be used to house older adults and others at high risk for coronavirus complications. Another wing will house homeless individuals who are already symptomatic. Barrett said at least 90 beds are available and people may start moving in as soon as this week. 

"This would allow us to provide them with safety and to provide the social isolation that’s necessary for our community," Barrett said.

The mayor said the final housing agreement had yet to be signed as of Sunday night, and that more details would be available once the plan was finalized.

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