As the temperatures continue to drop homeless shelters in our area are seeing an increase in the number of people wanting to seek protection from the elements,
The Department of Housing and Urban Development just released the Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress.
The numbers show that there are about 5,000 homeless people in Wisconsin and as the winter season wears on concerns about where those homeless will stay are growing.
Evidence of this week’s heavy snowfall sits atop the Freedom House in Green Bay.
If you’re homeless this much snow makes finding a place to sleep difficult.
“We see families are a lot more frightened for their little ones and their own safety because when the temperature drops things get a little dangerous,” says Freedom House Director Zach Chartrand. “Especially when you’re talking about sleeping in your car, things like that. So we see a lot more phone calls.”
The Freedom House accommodates 50 people, eight to 12 weeks at a time, providing three meals a day and several different classes and trainings to help people get back on their feet.
But taking in more people when it gets cold outside just isn’t possible.
“We have a database with over 100 families right now that we can’t serve because we’re full 365 days a year,” says Chartrand.
Despite the limitations, Freedom House has made strides in the past year as demand for temporary housing has grown.
In 2018 they served 289 individuals and families compared to 162 in 2017.
Freedom House says as far as finding additional shelter options for people during the winter, they’re still working on that, but believe community collaboration can make all the difference.
“The shelter capacity in our community is finite, so having to operate with in those balance can be challenging,” says Chartrand. “But I believe that this is one of the most gracious communities that I’ve ever been a part of and I think that if we were all able to put our heads together we’ll be able to solve it.”
Of the 5,000 individuals that are homeless in Wisconsin, the report shows 92 percent live at a shelter.
Overall the number of homeless individuals is down in Wisconsin 22.5 percent from 2010.