OSTED ON MAY 28th, 2009
Mercy Housing Lakefront celebrates turning Milwaukee city facility into permanent housing for homeless people
This new permanent supportive housing property brings together city, county, state and federal entities to provide a solution for homeless adults in Milwaukee.
Mercy Housing Lakefront, along with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, County Executive Scott Walker, WHEDA Director Antonio Riley and other Milwaukee officials, celebrated the groundbreaking of the Johnston Center, a new permanent supportive housing property that will be home to 91 people who are formerly homeless and have special needs.
Mercy Housing Lakefront will rehabilitate and add new construction to the current Johnston Center building at South 13th Street and West Windlake Avenue, which has been unoccupied for the last three years and once served as one of the city’s most well-known health care centers.
“We are meeting a critical need in Milwaukee for homeless housing that offers more than just a roof, it offers hope in the form of supportive services,” said Mayor Barrett. “We are proud to bring a nationally recognized leader in supportive housing to Milwaukee with what we hope will be the first of several projects together.”
The new $13 million property is possible through support from city, county, state and federal sources and has been named a “catalytic project” for the Near South neighborhood by the Milwaukee Department of City Development. Area leaders believe the Johnston Center rehabilitation will attract more businesses and services to the prominent six-corner area. It will also meet the city’s critical need for permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless individuals.
“Mercy Housing Lakefront is excited to become a part of the Milwaukee Near South community,” said Mercy Housing Lakefront President Cindy Holler. “When city, county, state and federal entities come together to support a development like the Johnston Center, we know we can be successful in providing the best housing and supportive services for people who are formerly homeless and have special needs.”
The new property will feature “blended management,” a model for permanent supportive housing that Mercy Housing uses successfully throughout the nation. Through blended management, on-site property managers and resident services staff work together to provide quality support for residents.
“Our staff members collaborate to get to know residents’ needs when they move in, work in partnership with them to create a stable atmosphere and address challenges if they occur,” Holler said.
Mercy Housing Lakefront will partner with Hope House, a Milwaukee-based organization that provides services for homeless and low-income individuals, to offer case management, tenancy support, employment, training, education and resident leadership opportunities. The Milwaukee County Department of Health and Human Services’ Behavioral Health Division will also work with residents as part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Shelter Plus Care program, which provides rental assistance in connection with supportive services for chronically homeless people with disabilities.
The Johnston Center building has long been a recognized landmark in the Near South neighborhood. Many people from Milwaukee have memories of receiving medical care there.
“I have many memories of the Johnston Emergency Hospital from growing up in the neighborhood,” said Sister Margaret Johnson, RSM, Mercy Housing Lakefront board member and Milwaukee native “This is where I recovered from scarlet fever and where my siblings and I went through the trauma of stitches and vaccinations. Our route to and from school each day was often via this very corner. Little did I know that this place of healing one's body would one day be rehabbed into a place that would also heal souls and spirits. I am so proud to be a part of this transformation.”
Other attendees at today’s groundbreaking included Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) Director Antonio Reilly, Aldermen Jim Witkowiak of the 12th District and Michael Murphy, representing the Milwaukee Housing Trust Fund Advisory Committee.
Several government organizations came together to support Mercy Housing Lakefront’s efforts, including City of Milwaukee, County of Milwaukee, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority. Supporters from foundations and corporations include Beyer Construction, Greater Milwaukee Foundation, Harris Bank, Helen Bader Foundation, Inland Power Group, Korb Tredo Architects, M&I Community Development Corporation, Rockwell Automation, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo.
About Mercy Housing Lakefront
Mercy Housing Lakefront, a regional office of Mercy Housing, is the Chicago area’s premier nonprofit developer and manager of affordable housing. Mercy Housing Lakefront currently owns 16 properties in Illinois that are home to more than 2,000 residents, including 450 children. Mercy Housing, a national not-for-profit affordable housing organization headquartered in Denver, has a presence in 41 states, serves more than 117,000 people on any given day and has participated in the development, financing or operation of more than 35,700 homes. About 75 percent of Mercy Housing’s portfolio is rental units, and the remaining 25 percent is homeownership. Mercy Housing serves families, seniors and people with special needs (formerly homeless, people with HIV/AIDS and the developmentally disabled). For more information about Mercy Housing, please visit www.mercyhousing.org.