MILWAUKEE — More single mothers are seeking help from a Milwaukee homeless shelter.
The Milwaukee Rescue Mission on average serves about 300 men, women and children at its main campus facilities on 19th Street near Marquette's campus.
For almost three months, Kellen Beasley and her three kids have called the rescue mission home. At first, she wasn't so sure about staying there.
"Nervous about everything with the little ones and how they were going to feel," Beasley said.
A bad relationship and getting evicted left her with few options. Beasley turned to Joy House, the rescue mission's shelter for mothers and children. It's brought her some relief.
"Just by having a roof, being able to be together, clean clothes, clean sheets and towels and food, hot food," Beasley said.
Beasley is not alone.
Leaders at the rescue mission say the Joy House population has increased by about 40 percent since 2018.
"Last year at that time our average was around 60," said Aurelia Brown, the Joy House director. "But in 2019 that number went up to about 80, 85."
Brown doesn't exactly know why the increase, but she does know the organization serves women who are experiencing homelessness for any type of reason.
"Drug addiction, that can be an issue, domestic violence huge," said Milwaukee Rescue Mission President Pat Vanderburgh. "A vast majority of our women are reporting, self-reporting, that they've been the victims, their children have been the victims."
Vanderburgh says that's most evident at Door of Hope, the shelter for women who don't have kids with them. He says its capacity has doubled from 10 to 20 beds since it opened in February 2018. He says it's almost always full.
"And now anticipating this winter, especially with our experience over the summer, we realize 20 is probably not going to be enough," Vanderburgh said.
Vanderburgh added the average population of the men's shelter has been up by about 14 percent. It can hold about 250 men.
The organization connects clients with case workers and other resources to help get them into permanent housing.
"No one wants to live in a shelter," Brown said. "And so when they have the opportunity to move in to stable housing, it's an awesome feeling."
That's Beasley's goal for next week. She's saved up enough money for a security deposit and hopes to call an apartment home soon. She encourages other women like her to seek the help they need.
"I know it's hard but being on the streets or jumping around from house to house, it's not something you want to do," Beasley said. "I mean being here is definitely better than trying to do that on your own."
Vanderburgh says people can show up at any time and someone will be able to help you in some way. If you or you know someone who is seeking help from Milwaukee Rescue Mission, call (414) 344-2211.