The Wisconsin Coalition Against Homelessness (WCAH) is urging Wisconsin local government officials to open warming sites to house homeless families and single adults this weekend.
Citing weather reports that predict below zero temperatures and noting the spike in homeless families in Milwaukee, WCAH urges Mayors and County Executives throughout Wisconsin to provide warm, safe places for the homeless.
Opening warming rooms will prevent injuries and possibly deaths due to the elements.
Citing a January 4 Milwaukee WISN TV news report which reported a twenty five percent increase in calls to the “211” Homeless Shelter Central Access from last week, Joseph Volk, WCAH executive director stated “The report confirmed what we’ve known for some time; in the State’s large cities including Milwaukee, there is a large, unmet need for emergency shelter, especially for families.
Sadly, more families are added to long waiting lists than those admitted to shelters.
When the temperatures plunges to what we expect this weekend, homeless families and children not having a place to stay is just unacceptable.”
Ken Schmidt, WCAH board president suggested government buildings, City Halls and County Courthouses could be used as temporary shelters for the homeless.
“An outbreak of arctic cold is as serious as a flood or tornado emergency and local governments need to respond.
Telling a homeless family with children to call 211 to be put on a waiting list in this weather is not responsible.
If the shelters are full, the family should be directed to warming sites,” he said.
Finally Volk stated “WCAH is in the process of contacting local leaders of large cities in Wisconsin, including County Executive Chris Abele and Mayor Tom Barrett to urge them to immediately take action to protect the health and welfare of the homeless, especially homeless children, during the upcoming arctic plunge.
We do not want to see a repeat of a year ago when Seferin Rios-Flores, a homeless man, literally froze to death on New Year’s Eve on the streets of Milwaukee.”