“You can’t stop homelessness if you don’t have affordable housing”

As Affordable Housing Director for ADVOCAP, Lu Scheer knows this too well.

In Oshkosh, there are at least 110 homeless people, including men, women and children. In addition, 5,800 households in Oshkosh are paying more than 30 percent of their income on housing, meaning those residents do not have enough for important expenses like health care, transportation and food.

Photo includes members of the Housing Work Group, from left: Lu Scheer, ADVOCAP, Inc.; Steve Komp, Lutheran Homes of Oshkosh, Inc.; Susan van Houwelingen, Oshkosh/Winnebago County Housing Authority; Samantha Zinth, Day By Day Warming Shelter; Elizabeth Williams, City of Oshkosh; Jeff Potts, Habitat for Humanity of Oshkosh.

The data, along with other statistics and information collected about the Oshkosh housing market, revealed a tremendous need for affordable housing in the community, says Kathy Kamp. As executive director of the Wisconsin Partnership for Housing Development, Kamp has been guiding the Housing Work Group through an assessment of the community's needs.

"THERE'S ALWAYS A GAP IN TERMS OF WHAT A COMMUNITY NEEDS FOR HOUSING, ESPECIALLY FOR THOSE LOW-INCOME INDIVIDUALS." -- Kathy Kamp, executive director of the Wisconsin Partnership for Housing Development

"Right now, we have determined what is needed, and what we need to work toward," says Kamp. "Definitely the goal and intention is to produce affordable housing units."

The Housing Work Group includes 22 organizations, individuals, businesses and local government representatives that are working to find solutions to the lack of housing and stability for Oshkosh residents.

Motivated by the Foundation's Tackling Wicked Problems learning experience in 2013, the group formed shortly thereafter and brought in Kamp's expertise after receiving a planning grant from the Foundation.

While the group has several redevelopment projects to consider for its next steps, the trust gained through the collaboration strengthened partnerships that already are bringing results, says Scheer.

An example, Scheer says, is how ADVOCAP and the City of Oshkosh are working together to redevelop a property on Frederick Street in central Oshkosh. The two entities are working to improve the neighborhood with a structure that is sustainable, energy-efficient and affordable for families and young people.

"There's always a right place and time for collaboration to happen and it seems to be the right place and time here," says Kamp.

Support initiatives like the Housing Work Group with a gift to the Community Impact Fund.


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