GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) – As the temperatures continue to drop, more and more people will be seeking shelter inside. One local homeless shelter says they are already in the triple digits when it comes to housing people overnight, and they know that number is only going to climb.
Eighty-three-year-old Carrie Petersen has been staying at St. John The Evangelist Homeless Shelter since it opened Nov. 1, but before that, she was living in a car and then out on the streets.
“On a cement park bench,” said Petersen.
But like so many others, she eventually found her way to St. John’s Homeless Shelter.
“I was so happy I had a bed to sleep in. It was wonderful,” said Petersen.
The seasonal shelter has only been open about 3 weeks, but its executive director said they’ve already topped its capacity of 84 people.
“Last year around this time of year, we were right around 70 a night. So this year, certainly last night, by comparison, we served 103,” said Alexia Wood, executive director of St. John The Evangelist Homeless Shelter.
Wood doesn’t expect it to slow down anytime soon.
“We are seeing faces we have never seen before,” said Wood.
“When we first got here, there were 40 people. Now we are up over 90. There are so many people coming in. They don’t have a place to stay,” said Curt Loff, who is homeless.
To accommodate more people, the shelter has an overflow procedure where it will work with other churches and organizations for more space.
“We will never turn anyone away due to capacity,” said Wood.
One night of overflow costs the shelter $250, which is about $1,750 a week, but with the increase of people this year already, Wood said they may have to open up additional overflow sites every night.
“When you start factoring in two overflow sites or that this can continue for the next several months, this is certainly a hit to our budget,” said Wood.
To help staff the overflow sites, the shelter is looking for volunteers. If you are interested in helping, contact the shelter at (920) 436-9344 or visit their website at www.stjohnhomelessshelter.org.
If you would like to make a financial donation, you can do so online or in person by dropping it off at 411 St. John Street, Green Bay, WI 54301.