GREEN BAY - With winter approaching, the St John the Evangelist Homeless Shelter will once again be able to house 84 overnight guests. The difference this winter is the shelter will be doing it legally in the eyes of the city.
“I'm grateful for the city council for taking the time to debate the issues, try to understand where the ambiguity existed and finally come out with the right vote in support of the 84,” said Deacon Tim Reilly with the Green Bay Catholic Diocese.
One vote short of being unanimous, Green Bay's city council agreed to up the shelter's city permit capacity from 64 overnight guests to 84. Last winter, the city fined the shelter for going beyond its capacity. The citations were eventually waived.
“I hope they abide by the rules,” said Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt. “Every other homeless shelter in the city of Green Bay does. I think they can if they want to. It's all a question of if they want to.”
Alderman Andy Nicholson was the only no vote. He didn't want to talk on camera but told FOX 11 he is sick of dealing with the issue.
Other city officials say more still needs to be done, including finding a daytime option for the city's homeless population.
“I feel sorry for the people who have to go out during the day when its below zero weather,” said Alderman Jerry Wiezbiskie.
The city's homeless taskforce, called H.O.P.E, is searching for a location for a daytime resource center. A deal to put it in the basement of the Wisconsin Job Center building on Cherry Street fell apart last week.
“We as a community need to get more engaged, but we need to do more for the homeless than we're doing,” said Schmitt. “This was a good step tonight, but there's a lot more that needs to be done.”
As for at night, shelter officials say they will continue to take in anyone who needs help. However, they say they will work with police and other resources on nights when more people show up than their capacity calls for.
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