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Community Resource Center Campaign Readiness Study

Three local organizations have been meeting to develop a plan to build a community resource center—a proposed $6M capital campaign for a $5M facility they say would be a game changer in providing much-needed services to Eau Claire’s unhoused population. 


The Need

In the heart of Eau Claire, over 700 individuals struggle without the security of a home. These numbers, stark as they are, fail to capture the depth of the crisis. Each statistic represents a person—someone's parent, child, or friend—dealing with complex challenges that extend far beyond the visible issue of homelessness. Despite the city’s economic growth and initiatives aimed at helping the unhoused, the number of people without homes continues to rise, painting a troubling picture of need and resilience.


Amidst this growing concern, hope is emerging through the dedicated efforts of three local organizations. These groups have a shared vision and a compassionate plan to change lives. They are spearheading the creation of a building where those who are unhoused can find more than just a roof over their heads. Their mission is simple yet profound: “People experiencing homelessness will have safe shelter and access to supporting services to help move toward wellness, employment, housing, and stability.”

 

The Solution

Western Dairyland Economic Development Council (WDEDC) is one of the leaders in the initiative. As one of the largest social service agencies in Western Wisconsin, this vital non-profit offers housing and employment services, Headstart preschool education, and a dozen more programs. The organization cares deeply about the mission of this proposed center, as it is their goal to alleviate poverty-related conditions and provide opportunities to those in need. 


Hope Gospel Mission is another key local non-profit and is more than a typical homeless shelter. They provide hope and recovery for those in need - beyond a roof, warmth, and food. They also aid in overall wellness by offering holistic programming focusing on academics, addiction, finances, nutrition/fitness, parenting, and much more.

The Community Resource Center would be a downtown shelter and a site where unhoused residents would be linked to needed services. As the owner of the building, WDEOC housing services would be located in the new facility and will financially maintain ongoing building costs.  Hope Gospel Mission will operate and fund the day resource center.


The City of Eau Claire is a key funding partner to make the project a reality. Staff of these other organizations that assist unhoused people would also provide support at the site, interacting directly with clients to link them to services such as mental health therapy, case management services, financial literacy, coordinated entry, educational opportunities, and more. WDEOC will cover the rental expenses for the other services housed in the facility without imposing charges for these services to be offered.

It will be a central hub for many resources to provide mental health support, shine a light on substance abuse programs, and help adults living with mental illness by providing the safety and security they need as they work toward a brighter tomorrow.


The project would cost an estimated $6.2M. The breakdown of costs for the proposed building and three years of operations is as follows:

-        Building Structural & Architectural Components: $2.9M

-        Mechanical & HVAC Systems: $370,000

-        Electrical, Plumbing, & Fire Protection: $577,000

-        Furniture, Fixtures, & Equipment: $1M

-        Operating Costs for 3 years: $1M

-        Fundraising Fees: $325,000

Total $6.2M


The location is still being determined with more than 50 locations having been examined and vetted by the organizations involved to decide if they were suitable. If an existing building in the right location becomes available, it would be renovated, which may decrease the overall campaign goal. If an excess was fundraised, the amount would be used for ongoing operations and maintenance.


Funding and Proposed Campaign

WDEOC, the city of Eau Claire, Mayo Clinic Health System-Eau Claire, and a private donor have already committed $850,000 toward the proposed capital campaign if it proceeds. The city’s financial commitment will come from American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding.

The Community Resource Center began to take shape three years ago when Community Haven House Inc. convened to provide a solution. The effort continued and gained support and input from the City of Eau Claire and Eau Claire County officials, nonprofits, local healthcare providers, business owners, and others.


The public is invited to provide feedback via an online survey accessed through the WDEOC, Hope Gospel Mission, and City of Eau Claire websites that will be promoted from June 1 through mid-July. A Campaign Readiness Study Summit will be held on July 16 and 17. The involved partners’ Board of Directors, City Council, and volunteers on the Campaign Readiness Study Committee will receive the recommendations within a comprehensive report in mid-August.

Crescendo Fundraising Professionals LLC has a history of previous work in the Eau Claire region. Four of the firm’s 45 successful capital campaigns have been completed in the Chippewa Valley since 2014 including Irvine Park Zoo expansion, L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library expansion, Chippewa Riverfront, and Hope Village Tiny Housing Alternatives. The firm also designs annual fund programs, campaign readiness studies, and strategic plans for nonprofits and municipalities. 

 

For more information, contact Dale Karls at Dale.Karls@WDEOC.org,  Brett Geboy at brett@hopegospelmission.org, or Billie Hufford at Billie.Hufford@eauclairewi.gov.

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