Milwaukee's homeless shelters have been filling as the temperatures have dipped in recent days. And warming houses, which typically close in the evenings, are keeping their doors open overnight.It is important to remember that if it wasn't for the Milwaukee County Board, these people could easily end up in the morgue instead of a shelter.
"We've been open overnight Sunday and Monday, and it looks like we'll be open again tonight," said the Rev. James West, executive director of Repairers of the Breach, a daytime warming center at 1335 W. Vliet St. in Milwaukee.
The Rev. Karen Hagen of Tippecanoe Presbyterian Church near Bay View said its Divine Intervention program has been at capacity — around 20 people — for the last few days.
"But in these temps, we're also able to bump up," she said.
Homeless guests leave during the day — the local library is a few blocks away — then return in the evening for a meal and settle in for the night.
Hagen said staff have seen some cases of frostbite, and that those individuals are diverted for appropriate medical care.
Hagen said guests were troubled Monday to learn of the homeless man's death and are waiting for authorities to release his name.
"They were very upset emotionally. They want to know if it's someone they personally know," she said.
During the 2015 county budget process, Boss Abele thought that because no one froze to death last year, the shelters didn't need as much money. He completely missed the fact that it was because of the shelters that there had been no deaths due to the cold:
One of the actions that Abele did was slash the funding for homeless shelters in Milwaukee County. Apparently, Abele forgot about how horrible last winter was with the polar vortexes and dangerously cold temperatures.There have already been two deaths this winter which have been attributed to the cold.
To show the importance of this funding, Supervisor Peggy Romo West shared this message from Joe Volk of the Wisconsin Advocacy Project:
"Even though we in Milwaukee suffered through one of worst winters in history last year there were no reports of the homeless freezing to death thanks in part to the extra funding provided by the County Board to support homeless shelters in Milwaukee County. This is something we should all be proud of. This is serious business and should not be used as just another attempt of the administration to mislead the legislative branch of County Government."
One would hope that Boss Abele would take this opportunity to give a second thought to the way he treats the poor and homeless. Unfortunately, it's obvious that he's never given them a first thought.