“Throughout this past shelter season, we have been nursing a heating system that is old and in need of replacement,” said Deacon Reilly. “In order to ensure stable care in this homeless ministry, we need to make some significant renovations to this facility, which is over 70 years old.”
Among the necessary repairs are:
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Monetary gifts to help St. John the Evangelist Homeless Shelter renovation can be sent to: St. John the Evangelist Shelter, 413 St. John St., Green Bay, WI 54301.
• replacing the building’s heating system;
• removing hazardous materials in the old heating system;
• fixing the shelter’s leaking roof;
• replacing windows that are drafty and leaky;
• installing a sprinkler system to comply with state safety codes;
• repairing the shower and restroom facilities;
• remodeling part of the school building to potentially accommodate a daytime warming shelter.
“This week, we are commencing a process to obtain necessary building permits and to apply for a multi-year conditional use permit from the City of Green Bay,” he added. “We will also undertake fund-raising to pay for these renovations.”
The parish and shelter corporation have already approved the renovation plan, said Deacon Reilly. Final approval from the diocese is expected April 3.
St. John Homeless Shelter opened its doors as a temporary shelter for the chronically homeless on Nov. 6, 2007. It was created to serve as an overnight haven for people who could not meet the requirements of the city’s other shelters, especially the mentally ill and those addicted to drugs and alcohol.
“This past season we have served approximately 37 people each night, which is about the same number of people served last season,” said Deacon Reilly. He noted that with the assistance of other social service agencies, 60 people – 25 percent of those who have stayed at the shelter – have moved on to more permanent housing solutions.
Deacon Reilly said that applying for a multi-year conditional use permit does not change the shelter’s status as a temporary shelter.
“We are asking for a multi-year permit partly because we are putting so much money into the facilities,” he said. “We would like to have a better assurance that we can operate this for a couple of years.
“We are a temporary, seasonal shelter, so we will continue to focus on the fact that we are open just six months of the year when people are at risk. They have no place else to stay,” he added. “So from that standpoint, we are an emergency, seasonal, temporary shelter. Our prayer … is that some day homelessness is not an issue in Green Bay. That the services that are provided by our community are such that people won’t have the need to come knock on the door to have a place to stay.”
No formal campaign to raise funds has been established, added Deacon Reilly.
“We have a great trust in the Lord. At this point in time we have a few notes sketched out in terms of what we’re going to do, but beyond that we are just going to trust in God’s providence.”