NewsLocal NewsIn Your NeighborhoodAppleton


First Summit on Homelessness paves the way for community action

Posted at 4:24 PM, Jun 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-14 19:40:11-04

APPLETON (NBC 26) — Appleton recently took a significant step towards addressing its homelessness issue by hosting its inaugural Summit on Homelessness.

The event was to start a dialogue and create a platform for the community to collectively tackle the growing challenge of homelessness in the Fox Valley.

“People in homeless experiences, in unsheltered homeless experiences, tend to find places where they feel comfortable and safe and those places are often out of sight,” said Lisa Strandberg, Pillars executive director.

Homelessness, often hidden from plain sight, has become more visible in Appleton recently. Recognizing the need for a united front, Breanna Mekuly from Appleton Public Health emphasized the importance of collaboration.

"Sometimes people think about homelessness as Pillars' problem, but it's not just Pillars. We all have a little bit to do," said Mekuly.

To foster a sense of shared responsibility and identify available resources, the city came together to host the summit.

"What kind of resources do we have, and how do we build some kind of collective action to move forward,” said Mekuly.

It was time for the community to start a meaningful conversation that would lead to solutions.

“We really needed to listen to each other and really hear each other,” said Strandberg.

Throughout the summit, housing was one of the central topics for discussion. The participants explored ways to improve access to safe and affordable housing while also prioritizing efforts to make existing resources more widely known.

“Everyone has human dignity and how do we treat everyone with the human dignity that they deserve,” said Mekuly.

Strandberg, who works with the homeless community on a daily basis, expressed her hope.

"Folks in our community see homelessness as a community issue that we all need to solve together,” said Strandberg.

Although the Summit on Homelessness was the first of its kind in Appleton, Mekuly believes it will not be the last. While no concrete plans have been set, she encourages the community to continue the conversation.

"It makes me really proud to be a resident of Appleton too, to know that my peers really care," said Mekuly.

Pillars, a resource for those experiencing homelessness in the area, help around 900 individuals each year. If you or a loved one is facing homelessness, reach out to Pillars at 920-734-9192 or visit their website for support.