As winter approaches, members of the unhoused community say Milwaukee needs more resources

NOW: As winter approaches, members of the unhoused community say Milwaukee needs more resources

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- As the temperatures start to drop and the winter weather begins rolling in, being able to seek warmth and find shelter is crucial for members of the unhoused community to survive. 

Julie Weis of Milwaukee said she has "been homeless since last October."

“I’m an addict, among having mental health issues," Weis said. "My birthday is in three days."

Weis said she's on multiple lists for housing and other transitional living in the city but so far, she hasn't had any luck.

"It's so hard to get into a shelter," Weis said. "There's not enough resources."

On Monday, Oct. 17, Weis headed to the Ascension Lutheran Church for a hot meal.

It's also where Street Angels Inc., a mobile outreach program that supports houseless people, has their office.

"Literally it feels like it's below freezing already," Weis said. "They keep me alive."

Shelly Sarasin, the co-director for Street Angels, said she and her team drive around Southeast Wisconsin three times a week in buses, delivering "blankets, gloves, hats, scarves, hand-warmers, and tents" to those in need. 

"Anything that would help bring a little warmth on these very cold nights," Sarasin said.

One bus focuses on the downtown and north side, while the other focuses on the south side and the suburbs.

“Between the two buses, each night we’re seeing around 170 people who are waiting their turn to get shelter," Sarasin said. “It is the hardest thing to tell somebody, 'Stay warm and have a good night' after you leave them with just the basic necessities to survive.”

The organization is 100% donation-based, so being able to fill their buses relies heavily on the Milwaukee community. 

"People shouldn't be sleeping on the sidewalk or in a cold tent or under a bridge," Sarasin said. "It's so solvable and to know that there are no shelter spaces available and that they have to sleep outside, it kills me."

Coy Berreth, another member of the unhoused community, said he's frustrated with the lack of support from the city.

“I got underneath about four or five blankets and it takes me a good half hour to get the heat all locked in there and you can’t ever move or something. The wind in there gets cold. It’s pretty bad," Berreth said. “It wasn’t no joke last night when I was sleeping. It was cold.”

Berreth said he was "disappointed" in the system. 

"[We] can't live like that, you know? Need help. Lots of help."

Sarasin said she believes the city needs to find immediate housing for those in need before it's too late.

“It is so easy to give up out here but we’re here to make sure that they don’t and to let them know that we’re fighting for them," Sarasin said. "We’re advocating for them because housing is a basic human right.”

Street Angels accepts donations every Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 1236 S Layton Blvd., Milwaukee, WI. 

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