NewsLocal NewsIn Your NeighborhoodFond du Lac


Salvation Army warming shelter opens as Homelessness Awareness Month begins

The Fond du Lac Salvation Army
Posted at 5:33 PM, Nov 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-01 18:33:18-04

FOND DU LAC — November is Homelessness awareness month, and the Fond du Lac Salvation Army warming shelter is opening for the season Nov. 1.

But this year looks different than previous years. According to Salvation Army Director of Community Resource Development Connie Millard, the homeless population in Fond du Lac County has increased significantly during the past two years.

"There's just no place to move to after COVID in the moratorium and all the rentals, issues that we had about two years ago," said Lu Sheer with Advocap Housing Assistance.

Sheer said during the pandemic, the housing market underwent changes that left many people unable to find housing or afford rent.

"A lot of people sold their rental properties," Sheer said. "We have a lot of smaller Mom and Pop and small property management companies who saw an opportunity, a good business choice to sell their properties. Unfortunately, that took a lot of rental properties off the market. And then we also saw a number of property management companies raise their rents anywhere between 25 and 40%."

Amy Loof, director of homeless services at St. Katharine Drexel Shelter, said this left the area in a "housing crisis."

"A lot of the people that we're actually seeing right now are first time homeless," Loof said. "That's actually probably more than half of the people on our waitlist and the people in our shelter right now are first time homeless. So this is new to them."

St. Katharine Drexel shelter opened in June, but there are currently 102 single people and 57 families on their waitlist who lack permanent shelter.

So the Salvation Army Staff is working to make their nightly warming shelter a place for some to get through the winter months.

"I think when people are coming, they're looking almost to catch their breath," said Christina Champlin, a Salvation Army officer. "They're looking for that hope to be instilled with them. A feeling like it's possible that this can change it can get better."

The shelter recently partnered with Per Mar Security to keep security guards in the shelter this year.

"That safety piece is a priority for us, to make this as safe as possible to make people feel like they can catch their breath," Champlin said. "Like they can put their guard down for a minute that they can recuperate a little bit while they're here."

Staff with the Salvation Army and St. Katharine Drexel Shelter said help from the community is making a huge difference in fighting homelessness.

Information on donation and volunteer opportunities for the Fond du Lac Salvation Army can be found on their website or by calling 920-923-8220.

Information on donation and volunteer opportunities at St. Katharine Drexel can be found on their website or by calling (920) 922-8122.

Information on Advocap housing assistance can be found on their website or by calling 920-922-7760.

If you are in need of housing, call 2-1-1 for assistance finding resources.