Church group wants to provide shelter to the homeless - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Church group wants to provide shelter to the homeless


WISCONSIN RAPIDS (WAOW) - With winter weather fast approaching, group of churches in Wisconsin Rapids wants to provide a warm place for the homeless to stay.

But some people are worried about the potential shelter's location.

The United Methodist Church wants to open its doors to the homeless.

Lonnie Shelije is an assistant pastor and said some churches in Wisconsin Rapids are dedicated to opening the shelter.

"They recognized the community was not going to have a shelter this winter as originally hoped," said Shelije.

She said there is a need in the area, "There's a group in the community called Helping Hands, and they have the same number we had during the six weeks we did this last winter and about 42 percent of the time there's somebody that needs to be put up."

Last year, a group of churches rotated shifts on a weekly basis to provide a place to stay for the homeless.

But Shelije said it's more efficient to have a central location.

"It was a lot more difficult for the people that needed to find a place to stay. It was difficult for the people that were referring them, to check the list and find out which church it was at every particular day," said Shelije. 

But not everyone is on-board.

Lee Albrecht is a city council member who lives only a few blocks from the church.

He said there are some concerns.

"The problem is it's at one location which would be nice for the homeless, they would know where to go but then again it's in a residential neighborhood," said Albrecht.

Newsline 9 tried to talk to neighbors about the potential shelter, but no one wanted to speak on camera.

Albrecht said the United Methodist Church should only be a temporary solution, until a full-time shelter can be developed.

This Tuesday, city council members will vote on whether or not to allow the church to have a shelter this winter.

The meeting is open to the public.

If approved, The United Methodist Church will have a temporary homeless shelter open seven nights a week through the end of April.

Organizers said background checks will be completed on every person who stays at the shelter.

Online Reporter: Christine Souders, Newsline 9

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