GREEN BAY - Plans for a daytime homeless resource center in downtown Green Bay appear to be on hold. That after talks fell through last week for what seemed like a definite location.
Plans were to turn the basement of the Wisconsin Jobs Center building at Cherry and Jackson Streets into a daytime drop-in resource center for Green Bay's homeless. The hope was to have it in place by the time St. John the Evangelist Homeless Shelter opens in November.
"I know they have issues at the job center with folks milling about, and I think maybe they thought there would be more if that, if this, resource center came into play," said Green Bay alderman and homeless task force leader Mark Steuer told FOX 11 on Friday, when it was confirmed the job center was out.
Commercial Horizons, which leases the building, had no comment for FOX 11. Steuer says there wasn't a ‘Plan B' in place if the job center didn't work out.
But through all the debate about the issue of homelessness in the city, there's a voice that's often left out: The voice of those who are homeless.
I sat down with a frequent guest of St. John's during the winter, William Psenicka.
"Right arm is no good,” Psenicka told me, moving his thin arm to his side. “Both feet are shot. I can feel every step I take."
Psenicka say's he's been homeless for about four years. Originally from Waupaca, he says he came to Green Bay looking for work in 2006.
“What kind of work were you looking for?” I asked him.
“I'm an industrial maintenance man, myself,” he replied. “But I've been beaten up so much that it's...”
He trailed off.
“Ain't happening anymore. I can't turn the tools anymore."
Four years ago, he says he was hit by a car.
"I'm a liability to anybody that wants to give me a job. It's not like I can't do it, and it ain't like I don't know what I'm doing."
Psenicka knows St. John’s well.
"They care about you,” he said with a defensive, yet impassioned voice. “Don't let anybody say that St. John's is – you know – some sanctuary for a bunch of alcoholics and crap. They actually care about you."
The overnight emergency shelter is only open from November through April. During other times of the year, he says he has a camp nearby the downtown.
Besides trying to find some kind of part-time job , Psenicka says his days are spent just trying to survive.
"What do you do during the day?” I asked him.
"Look for water and stay out of the (police’s) face," he said.
He admits he has stress, anxiety and depression; and that he drinks – but stops short of saying he has an alcohol problem.
"Got to have a beer every once in a while – and sometimes, it's the only way to keep yourself sane," he said. "As for drugs? No. No."
He believes there is a need for some type of daytime resource center that could help the homeless with their problems. But he questions how much it could help him.
"Nobody's going to give me a job because it's a liability."
Psenicka says he’s not looking for sympathy from people, but looking for some help.
"Don't be judging me. The last think I need is somebody walking by me and saying, 'Well, look at that homeless (expletive),'" he said. "Being homeless is - sucks."
Steuer says he hopes to bring officials from both the city and county together, soon, to pool ideas and hopefully come up with a daytime solution for the downtown’s homelessness issue.
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