The Beacon House and Western Dairyland say they have had to turn away hundreds of families because they do not have enough space for homeless families.
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- It is a building you have problem driven by if you pass through downtown Eau Claire. Inside the Beacon House, six rooms mean the world for six families without a place to call home.
"We actually serve about 45 to 50 families each year that can actually stay here," said Kelly Christianson, Executive Director of the Eau Claire Interfaith Hospitality Network.
But outside, hundreds of other families are also looking for somewhere to sleep and will not be able to get a spot here.
"So we kind of look at the situation, and the safety of the children in particular, so if we have families that are sleeping in cars, tents, or 10 people sleeping in a 2 bedroom apartment, that's not good for kids, those are the folks we prioritize first," Christianson said.
Last year the Beacon House had to turn down more than 200 families because it did not have the space. Western Dairyland, which has seven temporary living apartments across Western Wisconsin, had to turn down about 300 families.
"We try and keep in touch with all these families to make sure they can get the services they need but if all of our shelters are full it's a really difficult situation for these families," said Dale Karls, a Communications Coordinator with Western Dairyland.
Both say those without a home will typically stay with friends or relatives - and that is what they recommend until something opens up.
Meanwhile the shelters are focusing on help with job searches, education, and housing leads to help move lives forward.
"So we're really trying to help our families focus on the educational piece and improve their earning potential," Christianson added.
Helping to reverse a problem that sometimes seems non-existent.
"It's not like New York City or the larger urban areas where you have this image of what a homeless person looks like," she said. "That's not who we're serving, particularly families with children."