WAUKESHA, Wis. — Snow is coming down, the temperature is dropping, and winter is on its way. For some of the most vulnerable populations, like the homeless, this is a BIG issue. However, a shelter in Waukesha is making a difference.
“Every bed matters in our community, because if a bed isn’t there that means (there is) someone sleeping in the streets or sleeping in their cars or sleeping somewhere they shouldn’t be sleeping," Kathleen Fisher, the executive director of Hebron Housing Services, said.
Hebron Housing Services operates three different homeless shelters in Waukesha: one for men, one for women and children, and another for those experiencing mental health issues.
The Siena House, the shelter for men, was recently renovated to accommodate more people. With larger rooms, the shelter can fit around 20 to 24 people.
“It was crucial, because we do not have enough beds in our community to serve our homeless population. By expanding the room capacity, we are able to serve four to six more single men in our community," Fisher said.
Thanks to donations and grants, Hebron Housing Services was able to do the work. As well as enlarging the rooms, the bathrooms were modified to fit more private showers and toilets. The kitchen was also remodeled to be bigger.
“When you’re homeless and you have nowhere to go, you deserve a safe place to sleep. You deserve dignity and respect. Before our renovation work, we were not sure we were able to do that well. We provided a bed. We provided warm meals, but we were not sure we did that well," Fisher said.
There is also an handicap accessible bathroom and room on the first floor.
Siena House will officially reopen on Dec. 1. Fisher said that the shelter could fill up in one day, but instead Hebron Housing Services will fill the vacant beds over the course of a couple weeks.
This isn't just a place to stay. At these shelters, case workers will work to get people connected with a job, mental and physical health treatment, and secure stable housing for them to stay at long term. Men at the Siena House can only stay for about 30 to 45 days.
Last year, Hebron Housing Services helped 536 people. Thanks to these renovations, that number will likely go up in the following years. However, the job is still far from done.
“Expanding our capacity is good, but it’s still not enough we still need more beds in Waukesha County," Fisher said.
The Siena House still needs some donations like household goods, linens, and blankets. You can help out or learn more by clicking on this link.