United Way donates money to Milwaukee area homeless shelters

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The United Way of Greater Milwaukee on Monday, January 21st donated money in the form of two grants to a couple of Milwaukee area homeless shelters. Now, thanks to this funding, shelters have more beds to offer to those in need.

The money came from the United Way's emergency grants fund. One $25,000 grant went to The Guest House and another went to The Cathedral Center.

This comes as a blast of arctic air has moved into southeastern Wisconsin, and many are seeking shelter from the dangerously cold weather. 

"People are dying out there.  Pets are dying.  We need to make sure that at least a few extra adults have the opportunity to be someone where and warm tonight," Nicole Angresano with the United Way of Greater Milwaukee said.

Many Milwaukee-area shelters have reported they've been at capacity this winter, with waiting lists as long as 20-30 people.

The grant money will allow both places to operate overflow shelters and accommodate more people during daytime hours.

On Tuesday evening, cots were unfolded and wheeled into place at the Guest House in Milwaukee. It was the first time this winter the shelter opened its overflow room -- offering more men salvation from a dangerous night out in the cold. Normal rooms at the Guest House have about 86 beds. The overflow room will allow them to take another 15 people off the waiting list and give them a warm bed for the night.

"People are getting frostbite, hypothermia, suffering severe injuries, or even death.  So having this capacity is crucial -- even lifesaving. For us to be able to say to 15 more guys, who didn't think they would have a place to stay, yes you can come inside, yes you can get to have a hot meal, you get to sleep out of the cold.  It's life saving and they are so grateful to have it happen," Guest House Program Director Andrew Musgrave said.

United Way's grant to the Cathedral Center -- a shelter for homeless women and children has resulted in 12 extra beds brought in. Additionally, the shelter has extended its daily hours from 18 to 24.

The United Way grant should keep these extra beds out through March.

The Milwaukee Rescue Mission also provides an overflow shelter for homeless men. It provides 250 beds, 30 mattresses and 180 chairs.

The program director says the Milwaukee Rescue Mission never wants to turn people away.

“We’re not gonna not have a place for people to stay when it’s really cold weather and it’s a danger to their life. We’re not gonna do that,” Charles Schumacher with the Homeless Task Force said.

Single homeless women are encouraged to call 211 for assistance.