Homeless situation in Chippewa County reaches crisis point

Local News

CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – Homelessness in Chippewa County reaches a new milestone. The number of people without a place to call home more than doubled in just seven months. First News at Nine’s Phoebe Murray takes a look at the growing homeless population, including ways you can help.

“We’re at a crisis point, we’re seeing large numbers of homeless who are having to stay in their cars and stay outside if there are no other options,” said Chippewa housing authority executive director Jessica Oleson-Bue

Oleson-Bue says their agencies are overwhelmed. She says the growing demand for transitional housing, outweighs their resources.

Oleson-Bue said, “The housing authority does provide housing assistance on an ongoing basis but of course we have waiting lists for those programs, so it’s really tough when folks come in and they have nowhere to stay that night and if the outreach center doesn’t have any resources for motel vouchers we really have nothing to offer them except to try the Sojourner House in Eau Claire and then we’re sending folks out of the community to access resources when our community can’t support them.”

At least 258 individuals were seeking or receiving homelessness services in October, the highest number recorded yet in 2020 according to the central point of impact action team.

“That is very staggering for a county of our size for a city the size of Chippewa Falls, I am very concerned about winter and what winter brings,” said Homeless Services Director Jennifer Barrett

Barrett says every donation, all funding goes towards helping people keep a roof over their heads amid the pandemic.

Barrett said, “It does not cover our costs here in our office, everything goes back to the people of Chippewa County and I can’t stress that enough because I think that that’s important for a community to know.”

Without a homeless shelter in Chippewa County, the community needs help.

“If folks have the means to make a donation, even a $50 donation to the CDC outreach office here in Chippewa to help shelter families because funding has run out for motel vouchers and we have many families who need a place to stay, urgently,” said Oleson-Bue.

“If we can’t put them up long-term in a motel it’s amazing what a hot shower, a sleep in a bed and a little bit of tv will do for somebodies’ spirit”,” said Barrett.

In Chippewa Falls, Phoebe Murray, First News at Nine.

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