'Street Angels' offers food, clothing to Milwaukee's homeless population as temperatures drop

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Temperatures in the single digits are making it especially difficult on Milwaukee's homeless population.

Thursday night, Jan. 20, volunteers are out doing what they can. 

We met a woman named Tammy who grew up in Milwaukee, went to Milwaukee public schools, but a lifetime of hard knocks has left her homeless. A recent eviction left her without a place to sleep.

"Both of us, me and my husband, were -- our depression and stuff, and then other things kind of followed along with it, you know, and we ended up down there at tent city," she said.

We met Tammy in the parking lot at Ascension Lutheran as volunteers were loading buses for Street Angels.

"I figured I'd ask you if there was a place to stay for the night and stuff because it's gonna probably be cold tonight again, because it was really cold last night. It was really, really cold."

Street Angels' two buses loaded with food and warm clothes cruise the city three times a week, looking for people who need help.

Eva Welch hands Tammy gloves and a meal. 

"We'll probably see anywhere from 40-50 people," said Welch, co-director of Street Angels Milwaukee. "In the summer it can be over 200 people."

Welch started with Street Angels seven years ago. 

"You know some of these folks we've known for a couple years now and we truly care about them, and it can get hard," said Welch. 

Street Angels had to close its overnight warming center when up to three people a night were testing positive for Covid.

"We only have 2.5 employees. If one of us goes down, the whole mission goes down, and being on the streets is where we're needed most," said Welch. 

City leaders say to call 2-1-1 to start. Unfortunately, overnight housing has limitations right now.

"Covid has definitely changed the way that we do warming. So we used to do the -- just walk into these overflow sites, and because we have to watch the capacities pretty closely, then we do encourage people to call 211," said Emily Kenney, director of systems change at Impact 211.

St. Ben's, at 9th and State, and Repairers of the Breach, at 13th and Vliet, still offer beds to sleep in.

"A lot of us are not out here trying to get into trouble, we're not looking for trouble or anything," said Tammy. "We just want resources and the right people to talk to and to show us the right path."

For more information about Impact 211, click here

For cold weather safety information, click here

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