Fr. Paul Demuth, Envision Board member and Housing & Safety Signals Team
January’s “Point in Time” count of homeless persons in Green Bay discovered 41 unsheltered persons living on the streets — the highest winter number counted in three years! People who are chronically homeless often deal with long term mental health and addictive behaviors, and the traditional shelter models do not address the needs of this population. Recent research has pointed to a possible solution: peer-run housing. It works like this: a small group of apartments is staffed by formerly homeless persons certified as “peer specialists.” Unlike the traditional “case management” model, peers work with these residents at their own pace to develop the confidence and skills needed to become healthy and, eventually, live independently. The Brown County Homeless and Housing Coalition have approved this model as a concept and are looking for a sponsor to implement it for the Green Bay area.
Still, our community is desperately short of low-cost housing units. Creative future thinking, however, can alleviate this crisis:
- Change zoning laws to allow multiple housing units on lots previously zoned for only one dwelling. 3-D printing of “little houses” on these lots could provide another opportunity for increasing needed housing options. Watch this interesting video: “Inventing Architecture: The 3-D Printed House Zero on Vimeo”
- Convert underused office buildings into apartments. Since the pandemic and the increase in remote work options, fewer offices are needed.
- Convert parking lots into spaces for apartments and condos. People are rapidly preferring Uber/Lyft options to owning a car, thus lessening the need for parking lots especially in the downtown area. See the article from our Upward Mobility Signals Team.
- With fewer people owning autos, consider converting formerly needed two- and three-stall garages attached to homes into living quarters for older parents and adult children.
What signs have you discovered that will enable us to better use our urban spaces, prevent further urban sprawl, and provide needed housing in our greater Green Bay community?