Rural Homeless Shelter In St. Croix County Will Expand

Social Services Personnel Worry That Expansion May Not Be Enough To Meet Demand For Housing


A homeless shelter in rural St. Croix County is nearly tripling in size, but advocates worry they’ll still have to turn families away.

The Grace Place homeless shelter in Somerset has eight rooms and can house up to 24 individuals. Last year, the Salvation Army, which runs the shelter, had to turn away 130 families because they didn’t have space.

Thanks to a donation from Presbyterian Homes, they’ll be able to nearly triple the number of clients they’ll be able to serve. Salvation Army Social Services Director Duana Bremer said their new facilities will be a shuttered nursing home with 32 rooms in the city of New Richmond.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

“Still, the demand has probably outgrown even our new facility that we’re moving into,” said Bremer. “But this is sure going to be a big benefit to the community and be able to help the folks out that need our assistance.”

Bremer says homelessness is a problem in rural Wisconsin, but most people never notice it.

“The homeless in our communities are hidden,” said Bremer. “You don’t see them standing at the street corner holding a sign like you do in Milwaukee or Chicago that says will work for food.”

Robyn Thibado is president of the Balance of State Continuum of Care, which counts homeless people twice a year. Their data show a rising trend of people outside the state’s urban centers seeking emergency shelter in the last five years. This January nearly 2,000 people in the more rural parts of the state were in emergency housing.

“Our shelters are always near or at capacity,” said Thibado. “As far as other areas in the balance of state, they’re reporting that there’s not enough of that immediate shelter available.”

Back in St. Croix County, The Salvation Army is working to remodel the 1950s-era nursing home. They hope to move in by September.