Need for volunteers to house the homeless in Waupaca
By Robert Cloud
The pandemic continues to hamper local efforts to provide shelter to the homeless.
Executive Director Wilma Akright said Foundations for Living has seen its volunteers drop from nearly 50 to nine due to health issues associated with covid.
“Michael Hall (Associate Director of FFL) and I pretty much lived here,” Akright said, of the staff shortage due to the older volunteers who took refuge with them last year.
Each night, volunteers work one of two shifts.
The first shift is from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., while the second shift is from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m.
A total of 120 to 124 positions must be filled each month.
She said the volunteers were helping not only at the warm-up center, but also at the FFL office and thrift store.
Increase in homelessness
Akright expects an upsurge in homelessness this winter.
“We get calls every day for homeless people,” she said. “There are people who live in their cars, live in tents, try to find family or friends to put them up temporarily. “
Akright said local residents do not realize the need for shelter in rural areas.
“We don’t see people begging on the streets like in big cities, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have homeless people,” Akright said.
In addition to the permanent causes of homelessness, such as job loss, divorce or drug addiction, Akright attributes the growing surge to three factors.
First, the pandemic has led to a moratorium on evictions in 2020 and most of 2021. That moratorium has expired and landlords are filing for eviction of tenants who are significantly behind on their rent.
Eviction requests have increased 55% since the end of the moratorium, according to a report released Oct. 1 by Wisconsin Public Radio.
Akright also noted that there is less affordable housing available.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition estimates a shortage of 119,000 units for low-income renters in Wisconsin.
A third contributing factor could be an influx of Afghan refugees resettled in Wisconsin communities, Akright said.
Fort McCoy is currently home to more than 12,000 Afghan refugees, many of whom may resettle in Wisconsin communities and further exacerbate the current housing shortage for low-income people.
“We just don’t know where all of these people are going to go,” Akright said. “These are all issues that will make homelessness more difficult this year. “
Noting that Foundations for Living is a small facility, Akright said the shelter is only allowed for eight people at a time.
She said the organization had failed to find a safe, healthy and long-term solution to providing shelter to more people.
“In the past, we never needed to be laid off for more than eight years, but it could be different this year,” Akright said.
She said churches in Oconomowoc County take turns providing dinner and a place to sleep for a week.
Located at 1421 Churchill St. in Waupaca., Foundations for Living offers shelter from November 1 to May 1.
The refuge is open from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. seven days a week.
Akright said the organization’s goal is more than keeping people warm.
“Our ultimate goal is to help people get out of life control issues,” she said.
The organization also helps those who need help with housing by providing information about the area’s resources, financial counseling and education, and drug addiction support groups.
In addition to volunteers, Foundations for Living is also looking for taxi vouchers to help clients find jobs or get to the library.
You also need 10 sets of twin sheets, 10 double draw sheets, 200 rolls of toilet paper, 1,500 masks, 200 reams of paper, 250 pairs of new and warm socks and 70 new men’s sweatpants.
For more information call 715-942-2725 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.