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Manitowoc nonprofits bring awareness to homelessness, fundraise over $12,000 by sleeping outside

Posted at 11:55 PM, Oct 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-25 09:30:30-04

MANITOWOC, Wis. (NBC 26) — Now an employee at The Haven of Manitowoc County, Sean Blau went through the shelter's program as a homeless individual.

He's making strides, but it's been tough to get a permanent roof over his head.

"Due to my lack of rental history, criminal history, not-high credit score... I'm currently staying at the Holiday Inn in Manitowoc," he said.

This October was the annual Cardboard City event that aims to bring awareness to homelessness just like Blau has been through.

It was in collaboration with The Haven, Hope House and Habitat for Humanity.

"We sleep out in the elements for one night to experience what it's like to be literally homeless," The Haven Executive Director Michael Etheridge said.

Those efforts fundraised more than $12,000. Etheridge was there.

"This event is a serious event," he said. "We don't want to take it lightly, just because there are hundreds of people suffering in our community."

That night, he saw something he hadn't in the six years Cardboard City has existed...

"A literally homeless person approached us and slept outside with us that night," he said.

The Haven was able to take the man into shelter.

According to Etheridge, the latest count shows there are about 70 homeless individuals in the City of Manitowoc.

"The key is transitioning them to permanent housing," he said.

Etheridge says there's still ways to help, whether it's donating money, bus tokens or just raising awareness about the issue of homelessness.

"There are people out there who have similarities and can help each other and really care," Blau said. "There's bigger hearts in Manitowoc than I imagined."

Per The Haven, there are about 75 homeless individuals and families in the City of Manitowoc every year. As of August, there were about 150 homeless individuals in the county.