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Council grants permit for new location of homeless warming shelter


WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAU) -- Over 85 people showed up at Wausau’s City Council meeting Tuesday, many of them in support of relocating Wausau’s warming center for the homeless to 540 South 3rd Avenue. The council had to vote on a conditional use permit for Catholic Charities to operate from the building.

No one disputed the need for the warming shelter, or how well the organizers and volunteers performed this past winter. There were several people that believe these services for the homeless should be in a different location. Some residents don’t want the shelter in a residential area. A day care provider believes the shelter is a potential danger to the children she cares for.

Alderman Robert Mielke likes the project, but says he needs to represent the people of his district, and those people just don’t want it here. “Nobody is in favor of this. It’s not that the homeless are hated, or that this facility should not be built. The people are generally concerned, be it for safety issues, it doesn’t matter if it’s the middle of February or the middle of July, people have the right to feel safe in their homes and in their yards.”

Alderman Romey Wagner believes opponents to the shelter’s 3rd Avenue location base their viewpoint on incorrect perceptions, saying people are not looking at the facts and basing their beliefs on a worst case scenario.

Council President Lisa Rasmussen strongly supports the shelter and allowing it to relocate to 3rd Avenue. She says these folks have basic needs that need to be met like anyone else. Rasmussen says these people are out in the street, and could be standing behind you in line at the grocery store. She says, “There will always be a group of residents who will say to you, not that I’m insensitive to the homeless population, but not here. Then where?”

The City Council passed the conditional use permit on an 8-3 vote, which allows Catholic Charities to proceed with moving their offices into the South 3rd Avenue building and preparing it for the upcoming winter’s shelter activities.