FOX6: One-of-a-kind facility to help homeless get back on their feet
Angelica Duria - FOX6 Reporter
3:32 p.m. CDT, October 13, 2011
WITI-TV, MILWAUKEE — Aiming to help some of Milwaukee's least fortunate folks, city leaders broke ground Thursday on a new facility that will help chronically homeless people get back on their feet.
This is the only facility of its kind in the state of Wisconsin.
Despite the wet weather outside on Thursday, it was a sunny day for Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and other city leaders breaking ground on the future home of the Autumn West Safe Haven.
"The job that Community Advocates do is to stand up for people that most in our society would rather forget," Mayor Barrett said.
When completed, the space on 34th and Lisbon will have 21 transitional housing units, each with its own kitchen and bathroom, to help people like Andrew Seny get off the streets and back on their feet.
"Lost my job at first, couldn't pay rent, and then I went to one of the homeless shelters," Seny said.
He bounced from shelter to shelter, and then ended up living outside for three weeks, until the folks from Community Advocates brought him to Autumn West.
"These folks tend not to go to the shelters because they just can't cope with all the noise and the rules and the hubub that goes on there, so this is a very special program," Community Advocates CEO Joe Volk said.
The new facility will be the only one of its kind in Wisconsin, with supportive services for those specifically with severe mental illness. It will be staffed 24 hours a day with nurses and counselors to help clients with skill development and ultimately get them into their own home.
"It's very valuable. Autumn West is a perfect place to get you on your feet and be put in the right direction," Seny said.
In a few days, crews will start their work on the facility, including tearing down the building in order to get the new facility open by the end of next summer.
The construction of the new Autumn West facility is primarily funded by grants and donations, including a $1.5 million grant by the state of Wisconsin.
To see the original posting of this story and watch the video of FOX6's television coverage of the event, visit FOX6's website here.