Across Wisconsin’s life-span, periods of economic recession have swept across its landscape. Businesses, homes, communities, and counties all feel the widespread devastation which these times can bring. However, all of them recognize that the road to recovery is not built by acting alone. Instead, like a family, it relies on cooperation with neighbors, friends, and helpers. In nearly every project with which WHEDA participates, it relies on help from other entities, whether that be local lenders, developers, or government institutions. It’s not because these entities are incapable of doing these things alone, but because together, they can accomplish more. When WHEDA was spearheading its initial grant programs in the mid-1980’s, it looked for the assistance of those with years of experience for help.
The Community Relation – Social Development Commission (CR-SDC) of Milwaukee was just one of such organizations. Their primary project of pride, the Family Crisis Center, provided temporary shelter for homeless families, and was housed in the St. Francis Monastery. In 1985, the center could hold but twelve beds, though also offered additional services. Residents were provided three hot meals per day, emergency clothing, crisis counseling, and advocacies and referrals. Just as the monastery had plenty more space to expand, the city had plenty more to serve.
After applying for the WHEDA Foundation’s Emergency Housing Grant fund, the CR-SDC was awarded nearly $50,000 in 1986 to make significant expansions. The south wing of the monastery was renovated to accommodate another 22 beds. The conversion also offered showers, lavatories, and tubs for infants. With the expansion, the Family Crisis Center was able to support an additional 900 homeless annually. Over time, the center would come to benefit thousands.
As it is difficult for families to overcome poverty and homelessness alone, it is impossible for WHEDA to make an impact without the consistent help of its developers, employees, and those which it provides funding and financing. As WHEDA was exploring its first grants in 1986, the expansion of the Family Crisis Center in partnership with the CR-SDC allowed both parties to help thousands of homeless get back on their feet once more. As WHEDA continues to grow its foundational roots, it continues to work with as many as it can to aid Wisconsin families in crisis.