Gabrielle Barriere

More than Just a Shelter

For more than 30 years, the Guest House has provided services to men, women, families, veterans and those in need.

By - Apr 17th, 2018 02:50 pm
Guest House of Milwaukee

Guest House of Milwaukee

At any given night in Milwaukee, there are approximately 900 homeless individuals. Around the city, there are only about 693 shelter beds for those in need, and of these beds, only 385 are for men. Men comprise 80 percent of the homeless population seeking emergency shelter.

For more than 35 years, the Guest House of Milwaukee has redefined what a shelter can do. Besides being a safe space for those in hardship, the Guest House provides permanent housing programs that serve individuals and families in more than 450 apartments throughout Milwaukee County. There is a staggering difference between the need for shelter beds and the number of available shelter beds available for men and women. While the Guest House shelters only men, it aids all.

Attorney Patrick O. Dunphy of Brookfield’s Cannon & Dunphy has been a supporter of the Guest House for over four years.

“It has unique programs that do more than provide emergency shelter,” says Dunphy. “It provides a counseling clinic for addiction issues, case managers to put together individualized plans for guests to maximize their successful recovery from the issues that contributed to their homelessness.”

The shelter serves not only homeless men, but those living with mental illness and those struggling with addiction. There are programs in place for low-income and at-risk individuals, as well as veterans. These programs take into account the fact that 39 percent of homeless men report some form of mental illness, that veterans of the U.S. military make up 20 percent of the homeless male population, that 26 percent of homeless men suffer from alcohol addiction and 22 percent suffer from substance abuse issues.

Every night, there are 86 beds of emergency shelter and transitional housing available to men at the Guest House. These are open on a first-come, first-served basis. The shelter includes warm beds, friendly staff and hot meals provided by community volunteers. The shelter serves over 400 individuals each year.

Their team of Residential Service staff maintains the day-to-day operations of the shelter as well as providing hospitality to their shelter guests and welcoming volunteers and donors upon arriving. All guests at the shelter work one-on-one with a case manager to create a personalized plan to overcome homelessness. The Guest House provides permanent housing placements to its guests and guests with families. Their goal is that all guests leave with permanent housing, a family supporting income and sustained sobriety or stable mental health. It truly is more than just a shelter.

“Bottom line, it provides a unique and targeted approach that has successfully addressed the needs of Milwaukee’s homeless and helped the homeless return to having dignity and becoming productive members of our community,” says Dunphy.

Anyone can get involved by making donations of bedding, clothing, new socks, underwear and personal hygiene products. Church groups and civic groups often volunteer to provide meals for guests. Of course, donations of any size, large or small, are greatly appreciated. To learn more about the Guest House of Milwaukee, 1216 N. 13th St., and how to get involved, visit or call 414-345-3240.

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