FOX CITIES, Wis. (WFRV) – Northeast Wisconsin homeless shelters are preparing for the upcoming winter storm.
But the Day By Day Warming Shelter in Oshkosh almost had to close its doors when the winter storm arrives because of staffing shortages.
“Our focus right now is that whoever you are, if you need a place to sleep, we’re going to make sure we get that for you,” said Winnebago County Executive Jon Doemel.
Earlier this week, Doemel issued a proclamation to give the county the ability to run the shelter. Over 50 county employees have stepped up to cover shifts at the shelter between Wednesday and Christmas.
The generosity of the county employees will allow the shelter to remain open through the storm. Doemel said that within two hours they had filled up a sign-up sheet covering all the shifts through Christmas.
“It’s amazing, it’s a testament to the culture and how our people understand that when you’re in government, you’re in service,” said Doemel.
The shelter can house up to 25 adults and is open on a first-come-first-served basis for everyone over 18 years old.
Local Five News stopped by the shelter around 5:30 Wednesday night. We were not allowed to film inside even before people began to arrive and Day By Day Warming Shelter officials declined interview requests.
Other homeless shelters are also preparing for the winter storm. Pillars in Appleton is one of the largest shelters in the Fox Valley.
“Wait lists do grow in the wintertime, but we also see that friends and families are extra accommodating when the weather takes a turn like this,” said Pillars Executive Director Lisa Strandberg.
Pillars operates two shelters which are filled right now. Strandberg said that the number of people on the wait list this year is similar to previous winters.
Their wait list has about 100 people on it. Strandberg said that most of the people on the waitlist usually have temporary places to stay whether it’s with friends or family and are usually on wait lists for multiple shelters.
A grant from the city of Appleton helps Pillars provide vouchers to some of the people on the waitlist. Pillars officials said they also provide blankets, tents, and other resources to other people on the wait list who still have to spend nights outside.
Pillars also helps people with rental assistance saying the lack of affordable housing is the biggest reason why people can’t find their own places to live in Northeast Wisconsin.
For more information about Pillars click here.
The Salvation Army of the Fox Cities is also preparing for more people needing their services when the storm rolls through northeast Wisconsin.
Anybody who needs to get warm can come hang out in the building during normal business hours and can also get a hot meal.
“At the end of the day we’re all the same human beings and we all get cold and we need a place to stay warm,’ said Kristal Knudtson with the Salvation Army.
She said the organization also can connect people with organizations that can help them with housing if people are unsure where to turn.
For more information on the Salvation Army of the Fox Cities click here.