GREEN BAY - There is a new focus in Green Bay on homelessness.
A special meeting Monday night addressed concerns about St. John's homeless shelter near downtown. On Tuesday night, Green Bay's city council discussed forming a task force to deal with homeless issues even though many at last night's meeting agreed St. John's is doing the best it can.
Joshua Debot spends many of his nights at St. John's homeless shelter.
"There's really no other options," said Debot.
Debot has a place he can go during the day, but that isn't the case for many of the other adults St Johns takes in overnight.
"It makes it very difficult on a lot of people, if not every resident here," said Debot.
He says it is part of the reason police are claiming more calls are being made about St. John's residents.
"Like the staff told us, anytime we leave the property we're still considered a resident of this place, even if this place is not open at that time," said Debot. "Like if we go to the library, if we start a problem there at the library, it affects us here."
Green Bay Police attribute 30 calls to St. Johns since it opened November 1st. Only one resulted in a citation, but police still say the amount of calls is too high.
"There's always something going on in the community and the officers time is very valuable," said Lt. Kevin Warych with the Green Bay Police Department.
St. John's residents and staff say a daytime shelter would help.
"The day shelter I certainly think will play a piece," said Alexia Wood, the executive director of St. John's homeless shelter. "I don't know if it's the final answer, but it certainly should help with some of those police calls."
City leaders want to take a closer look at the issue. They are working with Lutheran Social Services on a possible daytime shelter.
"We want to see a plan and we're willing to put some money into it, but again, we want to see more participation in a sustainable plan that cares for the needs of these people 24 hours a day," said Jim Schmitt, Green Bay's mayor.
St. Johns is currently on pace to serve more than the 304 people it served last winter. Schmitt says St. Johns has sent in a proposal to allow 84 residents to stay at its shelter, up from its current total of 64.
Other homeless services are also seeing increased demand. Freedom House has a waiting list of 73 families and House of Hope has a list of 18 families. The Green Bay School District also identifies 1 in 27 students as being homeless.
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