New Menomonie shelter opens and has no vacancies

Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 9:01 PM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - The Cairn House in Menomonie is ready to serve those experiencing homelessness in Dunn County.

Heidi Hooten manages the shelter and says it took a few years and around $1.5 million to complete.

Despite the shelter opening, there was another issue.

“When I say open for business, what I mean is we have a very long waiting list of people that have been waiting to get in. And we are calling people on the wait list to come in for an intake to get them into shelter,” said Hooten.

The Cairn House is the only general homeless shelter in the entire county according to Hooten.

“Most of the shelters are family style, so housing single adults is harder. We work toward trying to get them into housing. The housing market is absolutely horrible. There’s not enough housing in Dunn County at any financial level,” said Hooten.

Before the Cairn House, Hooten worked hard for more than a decade to get the homeless some shelter. Whether it be the basement of a church, buying a home to serve as a shelter and even putting people up in hotels through money acquired by the county.

Still, there is only so much she can do.

“[R]ight now we’ve capped the wait list until we can work our way through those people that are currently waiting,” said Hooten.

In the meantime, Hooten said those at the shelter can stay between four to eight weeks, with a possibility of staying a little extra time for any arrangements that need to be made.

“And while they’re here, we have three case managers who are working with them to try to get into housing to either if they have to file for disability, we can refer them for that,” said Hooten. That also includes helping people with employment.

“We want people to come in here and feel safe and feel that they’re cared about.”

While the waitlist is at least a couple months out, Dunn County does have a list of services and resources those at risk of homelessness can use.

Click here.