An Invisible Population: The Homeless in Brown County
By Heather Graves
Wikipedia defines homelessness as the condition of lacking stable, safe and adequate housing.
This is nothing new.
We all know what it is.
We may even know someone – a loved one, friend, acquaintance – who is or has experienced homelessness.
And no path is the same – a myriad of issues ranging from mental health and substance abuse to dangerous living conditions and sheer bad luck can land a person on the streets, in a shelter, or on the couch. ‘a friend.
New Community Shelter Executive Director Terri Refsguard puts it best – there aren’t the “homeless” – this “big group of people. These are people who experience homelessness for one reason or another.
In the blink of an eye, anyone, no matter what their situation, could be left homeless – the loss of a job, an accident, a death in the family, a big unexpected expense.
Whatever the reason, many are just a bad thing to fall for.
Green Bay is home to six shelters – St. John’s, New Community, House of Hope, Golden House, Freedom House and Safe Shelter – serving many demographic groups – singles, families, youth, victims of domestic violence.
Yet people fall through the cracks.
Last summer at least 72 people took to the streets of Brown County – people sleeping outside, in the elements, keeping themselves warm or cool in any way they could, finding shelter under trees, under bridges or in the shelters of the park.
They face hardships many of us couldn’t even imagine – some living in Third World conditions not intended for human habitation – and need more help than blankets and a bread roll. soap cannot provide it.
While many of these people are currently staying at the St. John’s shelter of last resort, which opened on November 1, if awareness does not continue, changes are not made, measures are not taken. are not taken to succeed, these 72 people will end up in the return voucher in the street on April 30.
Being housed and having a home are very different things.
Over the next few weeks, with our NEW News Lab series on homelessness – Disregarded – we aim to share with you the lived experiences of those directly affected by homelessness.
We hope these true and honest stories increase understanding, eliminate stigma, and highlight effective and productive ways to help this vulnerable population.