Eau Claire City Council approves funding for new daytime homeless shelter

Published: May. 10, 2023 at 6:14 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Yesterday, the Eau Claire City Council approved the use of federal funds for a new daytime homeless shelter in the city.

The council allocated $500,000 in pandemic recovery funds, through the American Rescue Plan Act, to assist in buy or renovating a new space for a homeless shelter that would operate during the day.

The current daytime shelter, Community Haven House, is located in a building on Farwell Street that is currently up for sale. It’s uncertain for how long the shelter can remain at that location.

The Eau Claire Project Management Coordinator, Billie Hufford said Community Haven House has to pay rent to utilize the space.

“They pay at least 1500 dollars a month. And then that would allow them 15 days of usage. If they are using the building more than 15 days, that’s $100 a day,” Hufford said.

Hufford said eliminating rent costs will hopefully help shelters to hire more staff and extend hours. This would also help to fill in the gaps in service from other shelters like the Sojourner House, which is only open at night.

“Hopefully we can help extend the hours by helping provide a location so that the library isn’t used as a de facto shelter or other other locations throughout the city,” Hufford said.

Catholic Charities director of housing services, Kevin Burch, said there’s been an increase of unhoused people throughout the state.

“We are seeing an increase in all of the locations we serve in La Crosse in Wausau and in Eau Claire,” Burch said.

He said having shelters available 24/7 is just the first step to helping the homeless community.

“Being able to be treated with the dignity and hope that that every human being deserves, it really helps set the path and support people who are on that homeless journey wherever they might be,” Burch said.

Hufford said funds from the city would not own the future day shelter, but enter into an agreement with a community partner that would own and manage the facility. The city funds will strictly be used to assist in buying or renovating a building, and will not be used for staffing or utility costs.

Hufford said the city is hoping the new shelter can be located downtown, near other shelters and the transit center. There is no estimated timeline as to when a new daytime homeless shelter will open as of right now.