Northwoods group aims to bring first homeless shelter to area - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Northwoods group aims to bring first homeless shelter to area

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by Colby Robertson

RHINELANDER (WAOW) -- A Northwoods organization committed to ending homelessness needs your help. There is currently no homeless shelter in the Rhinelander community. In fact, the closest shelter is the Salvation Army in Wausau.

The Northwoods Alliance for Temporary Housing (NATH) is close to its fundraising goal. They have an offer on a house, but they still need help to make this vision a reality.

NATH President Bill Miller says, "We really see the opportunity to have space for 16 people."

Miller has a passion for helping those in need. His hope is to one day turn this house into Rhinelander's first homeless shelter.

Miller says, "We're very hopeful. We're praying that things happen and we want to see people that need our assistance helped."

Miller started the Northwoods Alliance for Temporary Housing in August of 2009. They've spent the past year researching the need.

NATH Vice President Lori Hallas says, "What was identified is there was a gap because here is shelter, emergency shelter for three nights and some transitional housing. We don't have anything to meet the temporary 30-90 day stay."

The non-profit organization has an offer on this Frederick Street House but they're running out of time.

Miller says, "A fire sprinkler system for this house is about $57,000." They still need to raise a hundred thousand dollars by June 3rd for state required renovations.

"We made a commitment and we want to do it right, so we need money not only to buy it, to buy it and not have enough money for renovations to start on it would not be the responsible way to go so we need both right now," says Miller.  

Miller says the need in the Rhinelander community is more situational than chronic but the research shows Oneida and surrounding counties need a safe place for the homeless and that's why he's hoping the community will step up to help make this shelter a reality.

Miller says, "They've just come upon tough economic times, it might be health related or loss of a job, foreclosure on a house, family splitting apart, so if we can fill that gap and provide housing for 90 days and provide training for people, that's what life's about."

So far, NATH has $59,000 in grants, but that money is restricted to renovations. If you'd like to learn more about NATH or help out click here

Online Reporter: Colby Robertson  

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