Salvation Army purchases building for homeless shelter

Inter-County Leader

from Polk County Salvation Army

POLK COUNTY – The Salvation Army in Polk County has been actively searching for a new homeless shelter since 2018. 

During the search, a property was suggested for them to look at by local law enforcement. The property is outside of Clayton but is located in Barron County. The idea is that the mass shelter will help both Polk and Barron counties have shelter beds to help homeless families and individuals. The Polk County Salvation Army is excited to announce that the property has been secured and officially purchased as of mid-August.

During the past few years, the organization has housed homeless men and women in Polk County in scattered units but that still left many people with nowhere to go in an emergency. Polk did partner with its sister shelter Grace Place, in St. Croix County, but despite trying to move people to the shelter, there were still limitations with space. Polk County Salvation Army is reporting that over 100 homeless individuals needing shelter had no shelter bed available to them over the past year.

During the search for a new shelter, the organization was able to determine what was truly needed for the local community and what types of programs would really serve the most vulnerable in Polk County. They determined two things. One, the shelter could serve both Barron and Polk counties, and two, it could be more than just an emergency shelter.

Salvation Army Director Duana Bremer said, “We definitely need to house individuals on an emergency basis, but we also need to help people long term. Many need to build good rent histories so when they leave our program, they are set up for long-term success. We believe having a transitional housing program as a portion of our new service center will help individual and families even more.” Transitional housing allows the individual to build good rent history with The Salvation Army while being helped by Salvation Army case managers so that when the person leaves the program, they have several months of a positive rent history.

Bremer also talked about how the new shelter will be a service center for Polk and Barron Salvation Army programs. “We want to streamline our services and allow individuals who are facing a number of crises to know that they can stop in or call us at our new location, and we will try to help the best we can,” said Bremer.

The new Salvation Army Service Center will help people who need a hot shower and a meal, those in need of emergency shelter, those in need of transitional housing and of course, the usual programs will be operated out of the building including rent, utility and other assistance. The Salvation Army in Polk County is well known for its backpack program that helps with food assistance to families in need. That program will continue as it always has in Polk County. “We are excited to expand on the way we are helping our community. There is a lot of need, and we are hopeful that our new location will help us meet that need.”

The Salvation Army is currently looking for volunteers, donations and room sponsors to help with renovations and get the shelter ready to open. “We are hopeful to be open in spring of 2022,” said Bremer. She continued, “We need a lot of volunteer help to make that happen.”

If a person is interested in helping or learning more, they can visit the organization’s website at SApolk.org or call 715-497-4438.

A financial contribution can be mailed to Polk County Salvation Army; P.O. Box 129;

Clear Lake, WI 54005; note in the memo line: Polk-Barron Shelter.