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City retrofits underused church classrooms to house homeless

Words by Tess Becker

Looking to transform an unused section of a church into 16 condos, a Wisconsin town is aiming to help homeless veterans find shelter.

Using $1.14 million in covid relief funding, the town of Eau Claire is turning the classrooms in the Grace Lutheran Church into condos suitable for living.

“It's something that we hadn't planned on doing,” Chippewa Valley Habitat for Humanity Executive Director John Dawson said. “We were looking more at doing homes, ground-up homes that we buy or homes that are tired that we fix up. But this opportunity came about. We looked at it and we just kept moving the ball down the road.”

The proposal for the condos came from the local Habitat for Humanity and must receive final approval from the Eau Claire city council with a vote planned for February 14.

Some of the final decisions are being worked out. For example, it’s still not decided if the veterans will rent or own the condos and if they’ll be able to use Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing vouchers through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to help with housing costs. 

“That's a leg up on finding a decent, safe and sanitary place to live,” said Eau Claire Housing Authority Executive Director Keith Jonathan. “It only makes sense. It's like a win-win, as far as I'm concerned.”

This article aligns with the UN SDG Good Health and Wellbeing.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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