Homeless shelter coming to one of MKE's poorest neighborhoods

Posted at 6:32 PM, Jan 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-05 21:11:45-05

A new project is filling a gap in one of Milwaukee's poorest neighborhoods. A 1920s factory turned warehouse at 24th and Center will soon undergo a remodel that could transform the lives of those in the greatest of need.

The MacCanon Brown Homeless Sanctuary purchased a five-story, 35,000 square foot building less than a week ago thanks to dozens of donors. The efforts were led by the Sister MacCanon Brown, who the organization is named after.

"This is where we will fill a crucial gap in Milwaukee as to where people can find safety," she said.

While the building is in need of millions of dollars worth of renovations, the first floor is expected to be done by this fall, providing a daytime shelter for homeless and at-risk people across the inner-city.

"This 53206 zip code has an extreme concentration of poverty," said Brown.

Brown said the shelter will help the less fortunate with necessities like showers, bathrooms, clothing and food.

"It's also a food desert," said Brown.

Other floors of the building will be dedicated to helping the homeless find employment, receive on-site healthcare, and even work on a garden. The organization hopes the top floor will one day be an auditorium with several meeting rooms where homeless and those who lives stable lives will be able to come together as one.

So far, 250 volunteers like Darius Smith have signed up to help staff the sanctuary.

"It's something I like to do,” said Smith. “I've been doing it my whole life."

Smith has seen the struggle first hand.

"Sometimes you know it's very cold outside and you need to be inside in order to survive really," he said. You can’t be out there frostbitten on your hands and legs with nowhere to go.”

Brown said on bitterly cold days, the shelter will open a 24-hour warming room for the homeless.

So far, $50,000 of $400,000 needed for the first phase of the project has been raised. If you would like to help, click here.

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