"It's a huge issue": need for overflow homeless shelter in Waukesha

“It’s a huge issue“: need for overflow homeless shelter in Waukesha

It might not be obvious to everyone, but if you take a good look around Waukesha – you’ll notice the signs of homelessness.

“Waukesha is a ritzy county and people just don’t want to face the fact that there’s a problem,” said Dana Baumgartner, Social Services Director for Waukesha Salvation Army. 

It's a growing problem in the area according to advocates. A total of 213 people were counted homeless in July of this year, according to the Waukesha Housing Action Coalition.

“It’s a huge issue. In this county we have 153 beds all together with all the shelters.”

Places like the Salvation Army Emergency Shelter see it firsthand. On any given night, it reaches its capacity of 51 beds.

“Starting tomorrow, we’ll have five overflow cots in the common area of the shelter because there’s a need,” Baumgartner said.

Council member Aaron Perry said the City of Waukesha is working on finding a solution. They recently sold an old firehouse to be used as an overflow shelter.

“It was fire station number 3 over on Century Drive. Fortunately, it’s right on a bus line and right across the street from the Waukesha food pantry,” Perry said.

The soon-to-be shelter will be able to house up to 50 men. According to Perry, it'll likely open in December.

City leaders are also collaborating with Milwaukee officials on other ways to decrease homelessness. 

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