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Our History

A History of Caring

The Homeless Assistance Leadership Organization, Inc. grew out of a community-wide task force to address the issue of chronic homelessness in Racine County. Backed by several great community leaders with a shared solicitude, we proudly opened our 120 bed facility in 2005. 


In 2003, the United Way of Racine County convened a community-wide task force on homelessness at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. More than 100 people spent six months developing strategic principles that became the beginnings of HALO. 


From 2003 to 2004, the Transition Advisory Council (comprised of key funders and providers) developed a business plan that called for the consolidation of two major agencies and the creation of a new leadership organization designed to address both emergency shelter and chronic homelessness.

In December of 2004, United Way made a lead gift of $150,000 to the capital campaign and start up budget. The Racine Community Foundation joined Ernie and Bernice Styberg in providing grant funds for transition costs.


From 2004 to 2005, the board members were recruited, and HALO became incorporated as a non-profit organization in November 2004. The new board approved a revised business plan on January 12, 2005, and HALO began its existence. Within a month, HALO had been endorsed by RAMAC, Racine's voice for business.

In 2005, the Racine community raised over $2 million for a facility to house the area’s homeless. Construction began on the renovation of a 23,000 square foot factory building in June of 2005 to provide 2 shelters under one roof - a 60 bed facility for men and a 60 bed facility for women and children. The men’s side opened in November of 2005 and the women’s and children’s side opened in December of 2005. 

In addition to creating the physical shelter facilities, HALO assumed responsibility for 17 scattered site apartments to operate a transitional housing program for over 35 families. Today, our housing programs have expanded to include both transitional and permanent housing and HALO manages the leases of 64 area apartments.

By 2006 HALO had successfully completed its Capital Campaign. A renovation of a former factory building was completed, and men, women, and children are moved in for the first time to a fully staffed and fully functioning shelter program.


In 2010, HALO launched a campaign to build our Journey to Self-Sufficiency endowment fund. Today it has grown into a healthy reserve and demonstrates viability and value for HALO's mission.

In 2011, HALO launched a Social Enterprises initiative to connect shelter participants with community enterprises by combining under-used facility resources with community programs to promote job creation, offer skills training, and increase revenues. One such venture is our Recipe for Success kitchen incubator for food-based, small business start-ups who rent our commercial facility to test recipes and employ shelter residents where needed. Currently, seven new businesses are using the kitchen incubator, spreading awareness of our mission and creating a new source of income for the shelter.

In 2012, Racine Mayor, John Dickert proclaimed Tuesday, May 1st as HALO Day in recognition of the work we’ve done to raise awareness of our mission.

In 2013, HALO received a Wisconsin Financial Literacy Award from the Governor’s Council in honor of our efforts to promote good economic health and financial knowledge for program participants. A Financial Peace University workshop and other budgeting courses are offered to program participants throughout the year.

In 2014, Claudia VonKoningsveld, Women of Worth (WOW) program director received an Outstanding Service Award from the Racine Interfaith Coalition for pioneering this successful substance abuse recovery program. HALO was proud to be a partner in this venture.

Continued Growth

New programs initiated by HALO include WOW-Women of Worth - a substance abuse treatment program; Growing Home-an urban food growing program to benefit the shelter and its program participants; and Childcare Assistance for Motivated Parents (CAMP).