A Kenosha County Board Supervisor who’s concerned about the welfare of homeless people who aren’t eligible for assistance from the city’s mainstream shelter has a plan but at the moment at least no money.
Andy Berg has taken note that First Step—a low-barrier shelter in Kenosha that’ll take in virtually anyone—is up against a tough fight to have its license renewed. Speaking on WGTD’s Community Matters program Saturday, Berg said his plan includes somehow acquiring a vacant building. "Our vision is that there will be next to nobody turned away," Berg said. "There obviously will be no drugs or alcohol allowed in our facility but if you're drunk or if you're high, yeah, we'll take you in," he said.
Berg, a veteran and former prison guard, is in the process of seeking board members for the new agency that he’s forming. Several influential community members have already signed on.
First Step—the agency on 63rd Street that’s in danger of closing because of neighborhood opposition—isn’t directly involved in Berg’s effort.
First Step’s CEO and founder, Tracy Krisor, wonders where the population of hard-to-serve homeless people will go if the city refuses to renew her license or if Berg's effort is slow to get off the ground. From November 1st to just last week, First Step was the overnight shelter of last resort for 165 different individuals. Almost half were dropped off by law enforcement. "Where are they going to go?" Krisor asks.
First Step’s license expires at the end of next month.
A community group that’s been formed by the mayor to explore solutions is expected to meet for the last time on Wednesday. Krisor plans to present what she describes as a compromise solution designed to keep her place open. She’s willing to close during the day in order to keep the place open at night, eliminating, she hopes, the problem of homeless people loitering and sleeping outside of her building.