Church leaders take next step to start homeless shelter - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Church leaders take next step to start homeless shelter


WISCONSIN RAPIDS (WAOW) --  Winter is coming, and a church in Wisconsin Rapids wanted to start a homeless shelter.  But, Wisconsin Rapids city council said "no".  Now, church leaders are looking for the next step.

"We have calls on a regular basis. People who need help," Martha Strong, President of Helping Hands, a non-profit organization that assists people in need.

City council member Lee Albrecht voted against the shelter.  He said it's not safe for a homeless shelter to be near schools and homes.

"There was a safety issue not only with students but the help and if they are trained," Albrecht said.

But, he does say he is open to the idea of a shelter, just in a different location. "In a commercial area, not close to schools, I could vote for this."

But, leader with Helping Hands say the time for a shelter is now.

"Now that we have been tracking the calls we receive, we see that there are a lot more families and women with children who need assistance," Strong explained.

City council member Chad Wirl, who voted for the shelter, agrees.

"Not all homeless people are drug dealers or criminals," he said.

Church leaders are now looking for a new location. One that's not near schools or homes. But, they say that is a difficult task.

"No one wants it in their neighborhood and there's residential areas everywhere," Strong said.

And she says she can't wait, and has to do something now.

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