Hot temps cause area homeless shelters to fill up

Salvation Army near capacity

The Salvation Army said the summer is their busiest season because during the winter and holiday months families and friends are more likely to offer up their homes.

When the warmer seasons hit they are turned loose, and with a heat index of about 100 today many are trying to get into shelters to cool off.
In the three weeks that Jaznique St. Junious and son Lonnie have stayed at the Salvation Army in La Crosse, it’s gotten hotter and hotter outside.

“The sun is dangerous,” St. Junious said.

With that in mind St. Junious has kept Lonnie off of the shelter’s playground and has upped his fluids.

“Lots of juices, lots of waters,” she said.

She’s said even though times have been tough, she’s happy to have an air-conditioned place for her and her son to sleep.

“It’s good to know that we have a roof over our head every night, they feed us, they give us the stuff that we need,” St. Junious said.

The pair is just one example of dozens of people seeking refuge at the Salvation Army.

“We have about 70 people in our shelter right now, which means we only have ten beds available so we really are approaching our maximum amount here,” Julie Nelson, with the Salvation Army.

This is a big issue considering this Salvation Army is the only family shelter in the area.

“We are the only program shelter of this sort within 100 miles, so you’d have to go to Madison, you’d have to go to Rochester, and you’d have to go to Wausau,” Nelson said.

As temperatures hit 90, some of the area’s day shelters also filled up including the newly opened Franciscan Hospitality house, which has a capacity of 20.

“If we hit the 20, if someone else wants to come in than someone who has been here for at least a couple of hours we would ask them to leave,” said Mary Fitzpatrick, the coordinator of the Franciscan Hospitality House.

And if things get too hot, too filled there is a backup plan.
“When it gets really, really hot for like three days in a row then we work with the county and we will open a cooling center over night, for people who need a place to stay in air-conditioning,” Nelson said.

The Franciscan Hospitality House is asking for donations of lemonade or bottled water. The Salvation Army says they are looking for money donation to help pay off their increasing air conditioning bills.

Please bring donations to:

Franciscan Hospitality House
114 Sixth St. N.
La Crosse, WI 54601

Salvation Army
223 Eight St. N.
La Crosse, WI 54601