St. John’s Ministries update on Summer Safe Sleep program


April 26, 2022

St. John’s Ministries update on Summer Safe Sleep program

GREEN BAY, Wis. — St. John’s Ministries created a program five years ago to shelter those most vulnerable in the summer months. Over the last few years, as the parameters of eligibility have broadened, Summer Safe Sleep has become an extension of its core emergency shelter season (November 1 – April 30).

As a result, St. John’s has sheltered more adults in the summer over the last few years than in the winter, which was not the original intention of the program. This has resulted in case managers being unable to connect with those considered high-risk, created apathy and a reluctance to move forward towards housing by guests and put a strain on staffing. Further, it threatens St. John’s ability to meet its core mission to ensure no one is on the streets in the harsh winter elements.

The decisions for Summer Safe Sleep were made by a committee at St. John’s, committed to ensuring the winter months don’t have a capacity limit. As Summer Safe Sleep became an option for all adults, it created a pathway for individuals to utilize shelter when convenient and not focus on finding permanent housing as a solution. Further, it became a draw for individuals from other communities who had no other ties to Green Bay. As a result, St. John’s has seen unprecedented numbers of individuals seeking shelter during the winter season because the summer services created entitlement.

While St. John’s has never had a capacity, the organization and staff are working with guests to find permanent housing and break down barriers to prevent a capacity being enacted at any point during the year, especially in the winter months. Though St. John’s has not experienced this limit yet, we know we are not an unlimited resource.

This summer, St. John’s has identified certain individuals who are the most vulnerable; those with the most significant barriers to move forward. The set list of guests was determined prior to the start of the summer season; for these, access to summer safe sleep will remain an option from May 1 to October 31. The predetermined list will not be added to throughout.

If an individual not on the predetermined list is referred to or presents at St. John’s seeking shelter during the summer months (May 1 – October 31), they will be referred to a case manager at the Micah Center or Wellspring who will determine eligibility. If a case manager deems the individual’s crisis situation necessary for shelter, it will be for a temporary 14-day period.

While St. John’s is the only shelter of last resort in the Green Bay community, the Summer Safe Sleep program was created for homeless adults with the highest risk and barriers making it difficult to move forward.

About St. John’s Ministries:

St. John’s Ministries’ mission is to honor the dignity, restore hope and create lasting change for those experiencing homelessness or housing instability in the greater Green Bay community. At St. John’s Ministries, we believe that each person is unique, with the same inherent worth as the day they were born. We meet each of our guests right where they’re at and walk alongside them on their journey. Our vision is that through a spirit of familiarity, rapport and trust, each person will leave better than they came. Services are provided across four locations. At our two seasonal emergency shelters of last resort, we provide adults experiencing homelessness with a safe place to sleep during the harsh winter months. At the Micah Center and Wellspring, our two daytime resource centers, we equip adults experiencing homelessness – as well as community members at risk – with the tools to achieve self-sufficiency.

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