Cold Weather Calls Increase at 211 Hotline Center

City of Milwaukee officials recommended Wednesday that people struggling to get out of the cold should call 2-1-1.

That's the 24-hour hotline with the absolute latest information on shelter openings.

It's a year-round operation but the tone or immediacy of many calls changes when the weather gets as cold as what's forecasted this week.

Nancy Johnson's job title is Resource Manager. She spends her time answering the hotline and often has to ask people tough questions that have sad answers.

"It gets little busier during the winter of course because people don'tt want to be outside," Johnson said.

A big TV screen showed the call tally so far for the day: 383. It was just minutes after Noon.

"We typically take around 600 calls. Today I'm expecting that we'll exceed that," John Hyatt, President and CEO of Impact - which runs the call center - said.

Hyatt describes the work being done in the room as job as to "connecting people with services" or "being an access point for family health and human services".

That includes giving referrals to shelters.

"So there are people who are out on the street and are saying I don' have a place to stay right now. Where can I go? What can I do?" Hyatt said.

One of those warming shelters opening Wednesday evening was in West Allis on South 81st street. Officials with the city of Milwaukee said even more shelters are scheduled to open on Thursday.

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