TOWN OF UNION - Door County currently does not have a homeless shelter.
A local church is hoping to change that by turning some of its worship space into rooms for families in need.
Southern Door Community Church in the Town of Union proposed the idea, but some neighbors are saying - not in my backyard.
Homelessness may not seem to be an issue in Door County, but according to the experts it's bigger than you think.
According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, seven percent of all homeless people live in a rural community.
"So I kind of did the math, and of the 28,000 that we have living here year round, seven percent is almost 2,000 people," said Ursula Bunnell-Timreck with HELP of Door County.
Bunnell-Timreck said while the problem may not be as visible on the peninsula as in larger cities, it does exist.
"We've had clients here up in Door County that have been fleeing domestic related situations that have lived in their vehicles, their cars, during the summertime," said Bunnell-Timreck.
"We have to have this permit before we go any further," said Pastor Paul Peterson.
At Southern Door Community Church in the town of Union, Peterson and his congregation have a plan to help the homeless in Door County. But it still needs town board approval.
"As a congregation we looked at this facility, and it's paid for, and it's pretty large for a group of 40 people to be used once a week, and so the question was what more can we do," Peterson explained.
Peterson is proposing remodeling the area where services are held so the church can house a privately funded homeless shelter. It would have five sleeping rooms, plus a couple of common areas.
Church members want to model the shelter after the Freedom House in Green Bay. Through a 90-day program, it would help families with children find work and a roof over their heads.
"Surround them with people who care about them, help them learn some skills, help them learn some things about finances, about nutrition, about family," said Peterson.
But what about the proposed shelter's rural location halfway between Green Bay and Sturgeon Bay? How would kids get to school, and parents to work?
"There will have to be some travel. We'll have to be transporting the moms to their jobs, and things - but that's all accounted for in our budgeting," explained Peterson.
Peterson said he's absolutely convinced there are more people in the township that support the initiative than oppose it.
"Everybody has a reason," said town chair Cletus Fontaine.
Fontaine tells FOX 11 differently.
"Oh yes, more opposition, the only support that I've received have been calls from Green Bay, Sturgeon Bay, Algoma, Forestville. I've received none positive from the the municipality," Fontaine said.
Fontaine said declining property values and appropriateness for the area are among the biggest concerns.
"Just not the place for it," said Rita Jauquet who lives near the church.
But safety is also on some people's minds.
"If the people go out, outside what are they going to do, roam around? Maybe they might come here, you never know," said Jauquet.
Peterson said neighbors should not be concerned.
"Everyone coming into the program will be thoroughly background checked, criminal screening," said Peterson.
Ultimately, the go ahead for the shelter is in the hands of the town's three board members.
Wednesday, the Union Town Board is scheduled to meet, and may vote on whether to issue a conditional use permit to the church for the shelter.
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