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 Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, WisconsinApril 18, 2003 Issue 

Foundation given $1 million

Fund will focus on making home ownership reality

By Renae Bauer
Communications Department

The Catholic Foundation of the Green Bay Diocese has received a $1 million gift for endowment from Darlene and Donald Long Sr. of Green Bay and their children to find ways to make a long-term impact on low-income housing in Brown County.

The gift will fund a study of issues related to low-income housing and how to help people -- regardless of faith -- find affordable housing or to attain home ownership.

Long, a Green Bay business leader and president of the Catholic Foundation, at an April 15 session explained to a group of nearly 150 community members why he wants to help poor people find solutions to their housing problems.

"In a country as rich as ours, no one should experience homelessness," Long said. "We have a number of people and organizations who assist people in finding temporary or low-income housing, but I thoroughly believe that if everybody who is committed to this cause comes together, we can assess our current programs, learn where the gaps in care are, and then launch new, permanent solutions. I want to see homelessness significantly reduced and home ownership increased."

Pleased with gift

Cindi Brawner, executive director of the Catholic Foundation, said she is pleased the Long family has made such a generous gift to the Catholic Foundation and the community as a whole.

"The gift will help the community organize successfully around the issues of homelessness, affordable housing and the other problems that keep people from affordable home ownership," she said.

The gift will be used to establish the Affordable Housing Institute (AHI) to assess homelessness and the need for low-income housing and home ownership in Brown County.

Gathering data

"This assessment will include the gathering and assessing of data about current housing options and the people in need," said Michael Troyer of Strategic Management Associates of Green Bay, which has been consulting with the AHI Leadership Task Force.

Here are some of its initial findings:

• Between 953 and 2,268 people are homeless in Brown County in any given year.

• More than 8,800 households in Brown County pay more than 30% of their income for rent, compared to a benchmark of 25%.

• The number of homes in Brown County valued at under $100,000 is declining. In 1990, about 90% fell into this category; in 2000, only 36% did.

AHI will use the data to develop a "roadmap" to make sure it always focuses on the housing issue. Additionally, the planning process will seek to engage the community in creating a "comprehensive system of care," Troyer said. These first two phases are expected to be completed in four to six months.

Members of the AHI Leadership Task Force include three members of the Long family -- Sue (Long) Olmsted, Cheri Long and Lori (Long) Hanus. Other members are Ken Strmiska and Martha Ahrendt of the Greater Green Bay Community Foundation; Sheri Prosser, Cornerstone Foundation; Karen Johnston, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Green Bay; and Brawner.

Advisory board

An Ad Hoc Needs Assessment Advisory Group has been formed. Its members are Linda Doro, Brown County Human Services Department; Holly Hebel, NEW Community Shelter; Martha Ahrendt, Greater Green Bay Community Foundation; Mitch Manthey, Ecumenical Partnership for Housing; Noel Halverson, Neighborhood Housing Services of Green Bay; Kathy McMurray and Rolfe White, NEW Community Shelter; Rosemary Jonas, Integrated Community Services; and Lora Warner, Planning and Evaluation Inc.

Sue Olmsted, daughter of Darlene and Donald Long and the family's representative in the effort, stressed that AHI is in its infancy and will be all the more successful when others get involved.

"There are many stops along this journey from homelessness to home ownership," said Olmsted. "I would encourage others who have the means and a similar vision to follow their heart and invest in improving lives and our community as a whole."

The Catholic Foundation of the Diocese of Green Bay was established in 1997 as a way for Catholics to financially support community causes throughout the diocese, which encompasses 16 counties in northeastern Wisconsin.

Much of the Foundation's efforts benefit educational efforts, social services and ministry. The Catholic Foundation is a separate 501(c)3 human services organization managed by a board of directors of business and professional volunteers from across the diocese.

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