St. Francis convent to house symptomatic homeless residents and those at risk of coronavirus

Posted at 6:25 PM, Mar 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-12 18:37:49-04

MILWAUKEE COUNTY — Starting Monday night, a convent in St. Francis will be sheltering members of Milwaukee's homeless community who are symptomatic or at a high risk of getting the coronavirus.

They will be housed at Clare Hall on the St. Francis De Sales campus.

According to President of the Milwaukee Rescue Mission Pat Vanderburgh, the facility will be up and running with about six patients who have symptoms of COVID-19.

Vanderburgh waited for the day he could better protect his residents from the virus that has been infecting thousands of people around the world.

However, he said it's not that simple to do at a place like the Milwaukee Rescue Mission, which has already seen one of their guests test positive for the disease.

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee offered up Clare Hall in St. Francis, a space which has been unoccupied since the first of this year. It had been a retirement home for the sisters since 1989. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett announced the plan to use the facility on Sunday.

"This takes a lot of the burden off our shelters, and at the same time, I think does so in a way that's very responsible," Barrett said.

The facility will have two wings dedicated to each group of people, and National Guard medical professionals will staff it. They have a capacity of 90 beds.

Eva Welch, with the outreach group Street Angels, said this move would help people experiencing homelessness during these difficult times.

"They're losing their daytime resources by the minute," Welch said. "Many of them are staying together in the same encampments, so if one gets sick, we're afraid that it's going to spread like wildfire."

The health department will be in charge of referring people to the facility. They're expected to bring in more residents through the rest of the week.


If you'd like to donate, you can purchase items off their Amazon wish list.

Items include the following:

  • Word Searches
  • Mad Libs
  • Puzzles
  • Nail Clippers
  • Nail Files
  • Shampoo/Conditioner
  • Small Wastebaskets
  • Large Wastebaskets
  • Small garbage linersPads/Tampons- all sizes
  • Shaving Cream- Men's/Women's
  • Razors- Men's/Women's
  • 16 oz. Disposable Coffee cups with lids
  • 16 oz. Disposable Plastic water cups with lids
  • Straws
  • Pencils
  • Playing Cards
  • Handheld Games
  • Word Puzzles
  • Water Pitchers
  • Tea Bags
  • Colored Pencils
  • Coloring Books
  • Clock radios
  • Small TV's and DVD's

Donations should be shipped to ZMB 841N. Broadway, 3rd floor, Milwaukee, WI 53202, ATTN: Taylor Rick. Given the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, do not bring donations to the convent directly.

If anyone wants the Milwaukee Health Department to pick up some stuff, text Maria Salgado at (414) 305-3255, and she will respond within an hour.

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