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Milwaukee leaders suggest Marquette open university-owned hotel to homeless

Posted at 5:44 PM, Nov 20, 2018

Milwaukee leaders are asking Marquette University to help the homeless by opening the doors to a hotel.

Homeless encampments are popping up around Milwaukee.  Alderman Bob Donovan said there are about a dozen tent communities right now.  

"Quite frankly I can't understand why in 2018 America we have an issue like this that is so profound," said Bob Donovan.

The largest encampment is under the Marquette Interchange near 6th Street and Clybourn, across the street from a closed hotel.

"A hotel with 150 rooms that is vacant.  That hotel is owned by Marquette University," said Donovan.

Donovan sent a letter to the University president asking him to open the former Ramada downtown to the homeless.

"To open up that hotel and get these folks who are staying behind us some desperately needed shelter," said Donovan.

Marquette University sent the following statement: 

"As a Catholic, Jesuit university in an urban environment, Marquette is both compassionate and sympathetic to the individuals in our community who experience homelessness. Through our Ignatian commitment to service and cura personalis – care for the whole person – Marquette is actively engaged in a variety of homeless outreach programs, including Project Homeless Connect, which provides housing, health care and employment resources, and Midnight Run, where students, faculty and staff have provided food, ministry and other resources to some of Milwaukee’s most vulnerable individuals for the past 30 years. In addition, Marquette works with the Milwaukee County Housing Division and its Housing First initiative, which includes the District Attorney’s Office and the Milwaukee Police Department, to find permanent housing solutions for the homeless.

While we will continue to promote the dignity of each individual and prioritize care for the undeserved in our community, Marquette is simply not in a position to use its facilities — vacant or otherwise — to house nonresidents and assume the significant, complex responsibilities that come with operating a shelter.

Along with the City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee County, BID 21, Westown Association, Menomonee Valley Partners, Near West Side Partners and other community and economic development organizations in our neighborhood, Marquette is part of a broader Homeless Outreach Team that is working on a coordinated solution to most effectively meet the immediate needs of individuals experiencing homelessness in Milwaukee, and ultimately address the underlying causes of this systemic issue."

"I am hopeful that Marquette realizes this need and can perhaps accommodate us and once again they will have the opportunity to live out their Ignatian spirituality," said Donovan.

City leaders plan to host a public hearing to talk about homelessness 9 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 29 at Milwaukee City Hall.