Oshkosh has a few homeless folks. Not really a homeless crisis (though for any homeless individual and folks working to eliminate homeless this may be considered a crisis), but a regular and persistent challenge.
One common question concerning homelessness is "Where do these folks in Oshkosh go at night during winter?" That may be a relatively easy answer for many - they drive to a friend's home, they make it over to Father Carrs or head to the Appleton shelter, or they get a hotel room for the night.
But what about the folks that don't have a car or license, that are not accepted into a homeless shelter due to past criminal activity or current use of alcohol and other drugs, and those that simply have no resources or relations to help?
Some folks actually suggest leaving them - though that goes against pretty much every municipal policy, police code, religious value, and anything respectable. But even leaving them isn't a practical option, because homeless folks with no options tend to always end up receiving the attention and help from the police department and our medical care system. Consider, a bed in a hospital or a jail cell is far superior to the freezing temperatures of an Oshkosh January. And to be certain, this route of medical and police "care" is by far the most expensive and often least helpful (at least long-term) of any option available.
After a bit of reflection, some folks come back to the question: "why can't they just go to the homeless shelter?". Taking on active drug and alcohol users and those who potentially pose a safety risk to other residents is a significant challenge for any shelter, and most homeless shelters often provide a degree of privacy, with individual rooms for families and options for learning and healthy activities. Homeless shelters may be viewed as similar to a dormitory, or even a hotel.
But a facility that cares for the high-risk homeless population defined above often needs to provide 100% constant supervision, and interaction with another homeless family or specifically, homeless child, may be at best inappropriate and at worst dangerous. These facilities are almost always cafeteria-style open spaces.
Fond du Lac, Appleton (image above), and Green Bay each have what is known as a Warming Shelter, a temporary, often season facility that can safely and appropriate meet the needs of the homeless individuals while providing the community with a cost-effective and dignified way to help address this issue. According to the Fox Valley Warming Shelter:
Mission: Fox Valley Warming Shelter, Inc. seeks to provide overnight temporary shelter to homeless men and women. Philosophy 1. .All human beings have the right to meet their basic human needs for food, clothing and shelter. 2.Each person should be treated with respect and dignity. 3.The presence of God dwells in every human being.This article is intended to serve as an introductory educational piece concerning the homeless populations of our area and in particular, the growing support of warming shelters.