WISCONSIN DELLS, Wis. - For years it has been a problem without a solution. On May 1 the Stepping Stone Supportive Housing facility will open and homeless families will find their place in the community.
The 12-unit permanent supportive housing facility is being paid for through a combination of grants and community loan programs. No local tax dollars are being used for the project.
"It is a group effort. It is a community problem and it is a community solution," said Chris Fearing, executive director of St. Vincent de Paul of Wisconsin Dells.
St. Vincent de Paul worked in conjunction with the city of Wisconsin Dells to build the facility. Mayor Brian Landers strongly supported the project. The former police officer saw firsthand the homeless problem in Wisconsin Dells.
"I knew from my former experience as a police officer that we had a homeless problem," Landers said. "At the time we had about 120 students in our school district that were homeless. Today that number has dropped all the way down to 34."
While the tourism industry creates a lot of jobs, many of those jobs don't pay enough to keep a family afloat.
"They may be living in motels. They may be living in cars or storage units," Fearing said.
The Stepping Stone Supportive Housing facility is not a homeless shelter. It will provide permanent housing for working families or students.
"They become better residents, they get more involved and we like to take care of our own here in Wisconsin Dells," Landers said.
The community is also in discussions with Habitat for Humanity to build homes in Wisconsin Dells. The goal is to give homeless families the opportunity to eventually become homeowners.