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Hooo-tenanny! A Benefit for Home of Our Own


September 27, 2018

An autographed Packer football will be one of the items at the silent auction.

Children with autism grow into adults. Twenty years ago, two area mothers began talking about would happen to their children, both of whom have autism, when they became adults. Their vision grew into Home of Our Own ("HOOO"), a Wisconsin non-profit corporation, dedicated to creating an integrated residential community in a rural setting. The community would allow adults with autism and special needs to live independently, side by side with active seniors and others looking for reasonably priced rental housing.

Mary Anne Oemichen of rural New Glarus said, "We knew our children would never be able to live independently without substantial support, but we also knew they enjoyed being important and recognized members of the communities in which they grew up." With that in mind, Oemichen and Susan Wallitsch of Mount Horeb began meeting six years ago with parents of other special needs adults, in order to realize their vision.

"Too often, disabled adults are suddenly pulled out of their lifelong homes due to a parental health crisis, and are placed in an apartment-often in a big city-that may not even be near where they have lived their entire lives. We are trying to prevent that from happening to young adults who have grown up in rural Green County and surrounding communities. We know this development won't meet the total need in the community, but it's a start," Wallitsch said.

Along the way, HOOO learned about a pressing need for workforce rental housing. Workforce housing is priced affordably to attract seniors on a fixed income or working adults who are paying a high percentage of their income on housing. In its most recent comprehensive plan, the Village of New Glarus has identified workforce housing as a high priority for the community.

"I don't want my son to just go to his apartment and not know his neighbors," said Wallitsch. "It's the neighborhood and the community aspect of the development that was the most important for me."

On the flip side, Oemichen said, "Many young seniors in the Village have told us they wish there were more community spaces that would allow them to gather and socialize, but they've also told us they still want to do things to give back to the community. HOOO could help provide opportunities for both types of residents."

The project will have two large community spaces that could be utilized by the larger New Glarus community.

To make its vision a reality, HOOO has partnered with Wisconsin Housing Preservation Corporation (WHPC), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and a prominent leader in providing reasonably priced rental housing statewide. WHPC commissioned a feasibility study, architects and engineers, and is in process of securing funding for the project.

Phase I is 40 units, with no more than 12 units reserved for individuals with disabilities with the remainder being market-rate and workforce apartments and town homes. The development as currently planned features a large rooftop deck, courtyard, recreation areas, possible access to the Sugar River Trail and two large common areas.

After the project is built, HOOO intends to focus on quality of life for the special needs population. HOOO plans to facilitate community gatherings, and shared activities such as raised bed gardening, community potlucks, yoga, and game and movie nights.

A funding gap of $500,000 is anticipated for the project and HOOO is working hard to fill that gap.

To introduce the project to the community, HOOO is sponsoring a "Hoootenanny" at the New Glarus Fest Haus, 106 3rd Avenue, on October 6, 2018, from 3:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m. There are three featured bands, Billy Schmidt "One Man's Blues," at 3:30 p.m., the Alpha Romeos at 6:00 p.m., and Wurk from 8:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m. Basket raffles, a silent auction, 50-50 raffle, and "HOOOT Loot" bags will be part of the fundraising activities. Fest Haus will be running a cash bar and serving ice cream by Kennedy's, beer will be provided by the New Glarus Brewery, and wraps by Chick-fil-A will be available, along with other goodies.

You'll have the opportunity to meet with HOOO members, the developer, and the architect, and see architectural renderings. No cover charge, just come and have a "HOOOTENANNY" good time!

For more information, please go to


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