As the temperature drops, homeless shelters across Wisconsin are full and even have waiting lists.
The Salvation Army runs a number of emergency shelters across the state.
Major Robert Thomson is the Salvation Army Divisional Commander for Wisconsin and Upper Michigan. He says all shelters across the state are at capacity and requests for assistance keep going up, “The joblessness seems to continue to hang on while everybody says things are getting better. We’re still dealing with people who are unemployed or underemployed.”
In some communities, like La Crosse, the Salvation Army is the only place people without a home can find a bed. The other option is the La Crosse Warming Center, but it doesn’t provide beds. Even so, since it opened at the beginning of the month, it’s been full almost every night.
Karen Becker is the executive assistant of Catholic Charities in La Crosse, which runs the Warming Center and the Sojourner House in Eau Claire. That’s the only homeless shelter in the area for adult men and women. Like elsewhere in the state, the Sojourner House is full. Becker says local residents have nowhere else to turn, “Seventy-two percent of our residents that are using the Sojourner House facility, their previous address was in Eau Claire. So they’re from our communities, they’re in our communities, and it’s important we help these people as best we can.”
Becker says more young adults have been coming to the shelters, often because their own families are struggling and cannot afford another grown-up in the home.