A growing number of homeless people seeking shelter in Wisconsin are children.
According to the Wisconsin Division of Housing, the number of children in homeless shelters grew by 39 percent between the first and the third quarter of 2011.
Of the 14,721 people in Wisconsin shelters between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30 of this year, 25 percent of them were under age 18.
In addition to poverty, a leading cause of homelessness among children is domestic violence. Thirteen percent of those seeking shelter in Wisconsin are victims of domestic abuse.
Locally, CAP Services provides shelter for victims of domestic violence. The organization helps victims obtain restraining orders, find emergency housing and arrange for childcare and transportation when they seek to escape a violent domestic situation.
When the victim leaves the emergency housing, CAP Services also makes low-cost transitional housing available. Fourteen units are available for up to two years with rent based on income. Intensive family development and support services are offered in conjunction with the housing.
CAP Service’s Family Crisis Center in Stevens Point provided shelter for 17 Waupaca County residents in 2010. Of those, 10 were children and seven were women.
The organization’s Transitional Living Program provided homes for four women and six children in 2010.
For more information about CAP Services’ housing assistance programs, call 715-343-7101.
Robin Madson and Lynda Babino recently launched Foundations for Living Inc., a Christian organization that seeks to help the homeless in Waupaca. Their goal is to build a shelter in King near Calvary Lutheran Church. A second building, located in Waupaca, is also being considered for purchase and remodeling.
"We hope to have facilities up by the end of next year," Madson said.
Working with the Pregnancy information Center and Calvary Lutheran Church, the organization hopes to raise between $150,000 and $200,000 to establish both facilities.
Each facility will house up to eight people and will be available for rent on a sliding fee basis.
Madson, the group’s executive director, pointed to three groups of people most in need of shelter and guidance.
"The biggest need is for women who are coming out of domestic abuse," Madson said, noting that one of the facilities would be for women, while the other would be for men.
The other two groups most likely to be homeless are men coming out of prison and children aging out of foster care.
While the organization’s ultimate goal is to provide local shelter, Foundations for Living is also providing counseling, support and referrals.
"We will meet with them on an individual basis and work with them on the issues that caused them to get in their current situation," Madson said.
Once the transitional living facility is completed, Madson said the people who live there must first agree to an individual learning plan.
"They will have to learn how to deal with whatever brought them there in the first place," Madson said. "Maybe they are abusing drugs or alcohol, maybe they never learned how to budget their money, maybe they are aging out of foster care. Foundations for Living can provide the tools they need to help navigate from crisis and transition to independence and stability."
For information on services, call Babino at 715-281-9098. For information on how to donate to Foundations for Living, call Madson at 715-570-5620.
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