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St. Francis Seminary to provide shelter for residents with housing instability during COVID-19 crisis

Milwaukee County elected officials leading the local response to COVID-19 announced on March 29 the opening of a temporary shelter for residents with housing instability as part of regional efforts to slow the spread of the virus.

The shelter is a partnership with the Saint Francis de Sales Seminary and the Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Beginning Monday, March 30, 2020, temporary beds will be open at Clare Hall at 3470 South Illinois Avenue in St. Francis.

“Our efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 will determine the outcome of this crisis for tomorrow and for the foreseeable future, and this approach must take into account residents facing housing instability,” said Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele. “We are proud to partner with the Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee as we work together to put the health and safety of all of our residents above all else. We can and will save lives as we continue to support all of our residents in a holistic, comprehensive and compassionate manner.”

To fill these emergency beds, partners within all 19 municipalities of Milwaukee County will work to identify individuals facing housing instability who are symptomatic and who face the greatest risk from COVID-19.

“Coordinated preparation and action are key to saving lives during this public health crisis. We know there will be increasing demands on housing and health care, so this effort will take us one more step forward in meeting the need,” Mayor Tom Barrett said. “I am grateful to the Archdiocese, the generous donors, and all the partners who are making this happen.”

Temporary shelter at Clare Hall was formalized in an agreement between the City of Milwaukee and the Saint Francis de Sales Seminary. The City of Milwaukee provided furnishing and necessary supplies, and the Milwaukee Health Department will coordinate referrals to the facility. Health Department staff along with members of the Wisconsin National Guard, Milwaukee County housing division and the City of Milwaukee Department of Administration will provide service at Clare Hall.

“The Church always stands in the defense of life,” said Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki. “This is simply the right thing to do. The Church in Milwaukee is a good community citizen, and this request also aligns with our call to ‘love one another.’ Clare Hall is located on the grounds of our Seminary, which has been preparing men for the priesthood since the mid-nineteenth century. What better example for those studying for the priesthood than for us to reach out to the most vulnerable?”

Generous donations to support the temporary shelter have been provided by the United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County, the Plaza Hotel in Milwaukee, Ingleside Hotel in Pewaukee, Hampton Inn on College Avenue in Milwaukee and Homewood Suites Milwaukee Downtown.

The Milwaukee Independent began reporting on what was then referred to as the mysterious “Wuhan Virus” in January. Other local media did not picked-up on the story until many weeks later. Our early features focused on the economic impact, social issues, and health concerns long before other Milwaukee news organizations even mentioned the coronavirus. Over the following months, we have published more than 500 articles about the pandemic and how it has affected the lives of Milwaukee residents. This extensive body of work can be found on our COVID-19 Special Report page, a chronological index of links by month. Our editorial voice remains dedicated to informing the public about this health crisis for as long as it persists.
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