Less people living unsheltered in Wausau area than 2016 - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Less people living unsheltered in Wausau area than 2016


Less people are living unsheltered in the greater Wausau area in January 2017 than January 2016.

Counties around Wisconsin conducted a bi-annual homeless survey called the point in time count Wednesday night into early Thursday morning. Reports show three people were found living unsheltered in the greater Wausau area.

This is down from January 2016 when 10 people were living outside with 105 homeless people in shelters.

Community activists said that number is deceiving and that there are more homeless people than the count showed.

"They don't want to be found, it's a pride thing," said Wausau Warming Center coordinator Barbara Sugden. "They're not going to come out waving a flag that says here I am, count me, I'm homeless.  That's an embarrassing thing, even for a homeless person."

Pam Anderson of the Housing and Homeless Coalition said the weather also could have played a role in the decrease in people on the streets.

"What came to my mind was the weather," said Anderson. "When the volunteers went out they saw a lot of tents, they saw a lot of sleeping bags... but they weren't there."

While there's still work to be done, Anderson said strides have been made in getting the homeless into houses.

"We're actually coming up with solutions and solutions that work," said Anderson. "There have been people that were critically homeless that are housed and happy."

Jobs and affordable housing remain top of mind for activists like Sugden and Anderson.

"I have 10 homeless people that if we had affordable housing would be out of the warming center," said Sugden.


Volunteers hit the streets in search of people living outdoors in order to evaluate the housing and homeless assistance needed.

They looked under bridges, in stairwells and parks to name a few. Volunteers said it was finding people living underneath bridges that surprised them the most.

"You wouldn't expect that to be the case," said Wausau Police Officer Brady Copas. "It's an initial shock."

Roger Grebe has been partaking in the homeless count since it began in 2013, he said he does it as a way to give back and help those in need.

"It's just a sad situation," said Grebe. "I grew up in this town, and for me to see this is not very delightful."

Volunteers were also given care packages to give to the homeless people they encountered. Those included items like toiletries and food. Organizers of the homeless survey said these items are invaluable to those living on the streets.

"For the people who don't have the money to buy some items, little things mean so much," said Anderson. "Just the fact that someone cares enough to give them those items makes a difference to them."

From 10:30 a.m until 1:30 p.m on Thursday, Project Connect hosted an event at the Salvation Army in Wausau for homeless people to get information on housing and community resources. They also provided a free lunch.

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