Community help after Point In Time count proves homelessness is an area problem

Published: Jan. 28, 2016 at 9:39 AM CST
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For those living on the streets and in shelters, there's resources available to them this Thursday to help those less fortunate back on their feet.

Wednesday night across Wisconsin, Point in Time volunteers searched through different neighborhoods for homeless sleeping outside in the cold. In Wausau, volunteers found 10 people outside without a home. Executive Director of Northcentral Community Action Program, Jeff Sargent said in previous winter counts they've seen four or five people, so this was significantly higher.

The counts are performed twice a year in winter and summer. In winter months, there's typically less people outside than in the summertime due to the weather. But, nonetheless, there's a significant homeless population in Marathon County that some community members are unaware of.

"There's the stereotype that homelessness only occurs in big cities like Chicago, New York or Milwaukee." said Sargent. "But we know that there are people in Central Wisconsin that don't have a home."

After finding these individuals at night, they were invited to attend the breakfast at the First United Methodist Church. The homeless got more than some grub, actually, there were many resources available to help these men and women find a job, home, receive legal advice, and more.

Some organizations like the local Salvation Army branch works with landlords to help the homeless find housing. Sargent said that some of these homeless individuals actually have jobs, but because of their past evictions or credit history it may be hard to find a home.

Beyond this, looking at the big picture, the Housing and Homelessness Coalition, an initiative of United Way of Marathon County, created a 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness. They're focusing on prevention, keeping up with the local shelter system, community awareness, and provide education to struggling families.