Foundations For Living will open a seasonal warming shelter within its Churchill Street facilty next fall.
The shelter will be open from 9 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. October through April, following the Waupaca Common Council’s approval of the agency’s request for a special use permit.
The agreement will be a provisional one, which means the city will review the permit in April of 2016 to determine whether to grant a perpetual special use permit for the operation of the warming shelter.
“We will evaluate it after the winter season ends,” said Mayor Brian Smith.
Foundations For Living is located at 1421 Churchill St.
“It’s only for sleeping overnight. It’s not like a homeless shelter with other provisions,” said Robin Madson, Foundations For Living’s executive director.
Her comment was in response to Ald. Paul Mayou describing the hours the warming shelter will be open as “odd” and asking Madson where the people will go “when you kick them out?”
She told Mayou people will go where they currently go during the day, which includes the library and gas stations.
No more than 12 people will stay at the shelter, and they will need to be age 18 and over.
Children under age 18 will be prohibited.
The center will be staffed each evening with at least two volunteers who will serve in two shifts, beginning at 8 p.m.
Foundations For Living’s clients services coordinator will supervise the warming shelter and be its emergency contact person when the shelter is open.
“This is for the city of Waupaca,” Smith said before the council voted on the agency’s request for a special use permit.
He told the council it needs to understand the shelter may put extra stress on the city’s emergency services next winter.
Police Chief Tim Goke wants his department to have access to the shelter’s logs, so they know where people come from to stay at the shelter.
Madson wants to work with the police department to learn whether anyone staying there has an active warrant.
Ald. Steve Hackett asked what will happen when the shelter is set to close at 7:30 a.m. and there are “unusual circumstances” in regard to the weather.
“I don’t know how I would word it,” Madson said. “The 7:30 a.m. cut off is because the office opens at 8 a.m.”
She also explained that the decision to open the shelter at 9 p.m. was partially because it is an overnight shelter and also in sensitivity to the fact that a dance studio is one of the agency’s neighbors.
The mayor said Madson did her research.
“She tried to compromise with the neighbors and businesses,” he said. “One year ago, we had a packed house, and most were against it. Robin and Brennan (Kane) did their due diligence.
Kane, the city’s development director, described it as a joint effort between his department and Foundations For Living.
The nonprofit agency did its homework to identify the need for a warming shelter in the community, he said.
Madson originally requested a special use permit in January 2014 to open a warming shelter in the facility on Churchill Street.
During a public hearing, some neighboring businesses expressed concerns about the idea.
The city’s Plan Commission tabled action, saying it wanted more information about how such shelters operate in other communities.
Madson created a task force made up of individuals from the community.
Kane met with individuals who operate a similar facility in Appleton and passed on documents to Madson related to its policies and procedures.
Madson reached out to Foundations For Living’s neighbors through a community open house and individual visits to educate them about the agency’s proposal.
This year, the agency’s request for a special use permit again went before the city’s Plan Commmission, and in February, the commission recommended approval of the request.
Madson said she and the agency’s steering committee appreciate the assistance and support they received from Kane, Smith and the city and for being given the opportunity to take the steps toward helping the homeless in Waupaca.