MILWAUKEE — With winter weather on the horizon, homeless shelters are gearing up for the challenge of welcoming hundreds while keeping guests and staff safe from COVID-19.
The Milwaukee Rescue Mission has already seen its operations adjust because of the pandemic.
“It’s complicated everything,” said Milwaukee Rescue Mission President Patrick Vanderburgh. “Usually this time of year we might have 300 men, women and children in overnight shelter on a typical night, and now we’re at about 200. Fortunately, there’s some other resources in the city, so people are sheltered and safe.”
The shelter is doing its best to keep guests distanced. The capacity in the men’s shelter has been trimmed from 250 to 125.
“Here we are in the middle of November and we’re pushing close to that total of 125 in shelter, and we know that’ll just go up in the winter,” Vanderburgh said. “Now we’re finding other spaces in the building where we can add in some more capacity, put mattresses on the floor and separate people appropriately.”
Vanderburgh gives credit to the city for its help in testing and providing resources should guests fall ill.
As far as supplies that are needed for the upcoming months, it’s no different than any other year.
“Winter clothes, hats, gloves, scarves, coats of all sizes,” Vanderburgh said. “The population we’re serving is outside a lot, and we’re trying to keep them warm and safe not only from the virus, but from the elements.”
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