BELOIT—Family Promise, a Beloit nonprofit that assists homeless individuals, had its request approved recently by the Beloit City Council for an ordinance amendment to permit a transitional living facility in a Public Lands and Institution (PLI) zoning district.
Within the next two years, the nonprofit aims to transition its current shelter program where hotel vouchers are secured for the homeless to the use of a fixed, temporary living site to be determined in the future, according to a memo sent by the Family Promise of Greater Beloit Executive Committee to the City of Beloit Planning and Building Services Division.
Through combined prevention, emergency shelter and stabilization efforts, Family Promise served over 124 people in 2020, the memo states.
When contacted, Family Promise Executive Director Devin Blay-Stahl declined to comment, noting it was too early in the process to comment on future plans for the organization.
The amended ordinance defines transitional living facilities as a supportive, temporary type of accommodation that is meant to bridge the gap from homelessness to permanent housing by offering structure, supervision, support, life skills, education or training.
In response to the request, multiple organizations have spoken out in support of the effort to welcome expanded transitional housing options in Beloit, including Family Services of Greater Beloit and the School District of Beloit, as both have homelessness assistance components.
“I think the key word here is that it’s about transitional living,” said Family Services Executive Director John Pfleiderer said. “As a society that encourages upward mobility, we shouldn’t be scared of these type of projects. These are people who started with a low hand of cards to play and transitional living is a way to help them play that hand more effectively.”
In response to those critical of bringing transitional living to Beloit, Pfleiderer said it was common for opponents to stereotype all aspects of lower income populations and the homeless.
“We all have a horror story about neighbors, but none of them are based on their social economic status,” he said. “It’s a fallacy to imagine that lower income people bring in problems. I understand why people would be defensive about losing value to a home, but the larger picture is that communities thrive when there is diversity in all aspects and it doesn’t make sense to colonize poor people.”
School District of Beloit Homeless Liaison Robin Stuht, who assists homeless and at-risk youth on a daily basis, said she supported the council’s action.
“These proposed changes in zoning will help better define and standardize the operation of homeless shelters and transitional living facilities in the City of Beloit,” Stuht said. “The proposed use standards effectively outline the criteria required for proper operational guidelines of these facilities moving forward.”