Waukesha Overflow Shelter Keeps Families Safe
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United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County

Waukesha Overflow Shelter Keeps Families Safe

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Image of beds and couches inside the  Waukesha overflow shelter.

(Above) A living area and a bedroom area in the newly-renovated Waukesha overflow shelter.

March 3, 2022

United Way and community partners have set a goal: end family homelessness in our community by 2023. 

An end to family homelessness means homelessness is prevented whenever possible, or if it cannot be prevented, it is a rare, brief, and one-time experience.

Emergency shelter that is available and accessible when families need it is a critical component in the fight to end homelessness.

During extreme cold winters, hot summers, natural disasters, and other community crises, emergency shelters often operate at full capacity with long wait lists. But families in crisis do not have time to wait. 

The Waukesha overflow shelter is one solution to this issue. In 2016, United Way, Community Advocates, and the Housing Action Coalition of Waukesha partnered to purchase a disused fire station and transform the space into a comfortable, 20 bed shelter for individuals and families. 

United Way Safe & Stable Homes partner Community Advocates staffs the shelter, providing intake and case management support to not only help guests stabilize in the moment, but also access the resources they need to find and maintain permanent housing.

“The Waukesha Overflow Shelter provides more than just 40 new beds--it provides hope and an opportunity for guests to start to transition from emergency to permanent housing,” said Nicole Angresano, vice president of community impact at United Way. “In Waukesha County homelessness and housing instability issues aren’t as obvious but are still significant. Prior to this overflow shelter, emergency shelter capacity did not meet the need, particularly in winter.” 

In early 2022, the Waukesha overflow shelter underwent a transformative remodel, expanding to 40 beds and gaining an updated kitchen, additional relaxation space for guests, office space for staff, and more. Since the renovation, 15 guests have stayed at the shelter, all of whom received/are currently receiving case management services to help them relocate to permanant housing.

“Ending family homelessness is possible only when we have high-quality programs at all points on the spectrum, including emergency shelter,” continued Nicole. “The goal isn’t that people continue to come back to emergency shelter. We never want to discharge a family onto the street, but rather connect them with the support they need to move into permanent housing where they are safe and can access the resources they need to remain stably housed.”   

Your donation to United Way’s Safe & Stable Homes initiative supports local efforts that ensure all families have a safe place to call home. Learn more and donate today. 

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