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Group Addresses Homelessness in Lincoln CountySubmitted: 01/18/2013

Ben Meyer
Executive Producer
bmeyer@wjfw.com


MERRILL - Homelessness can be difficult to see by the naked eye in northern Wisconsin.

But it's here - just in a little bit different form than you might normally think of it.

"We don't see a lot of people sleeping under bridges. We're seeing mostly the folks who are transitioning from one place to another," says Art Lersch, a member of Lincoln Co. Homelessness Task Force.

There's enough of this type of homelessness for Lincoln County to form a task force.

It includes leaders from many non-profits, from the UW-Extension to the food pantry.

Its main goal is indentifying the causes of homelessness in the area and using grant money to help people in need.

Also, the task force wants to know just how many people are homeless in Lincoln County - which is easier said than done.

"This is one of the goals that this task force has - to try to put more numbers to this. But it's not only about numbers, it's describing what homelessness is like here in the county," Lersch says.

Finding permanent homes for people is especially important to the task force during this time of year.

"We don't want to see people transition when it's 10 degrees below zero. You don't want to see that any time of the year, but I think it especially hits home during the wintertime," says Lersch.

Besides nonprofit leaders, the task force wants your involvement in helping to fight homelessness.

They invite you to their next meeting on February 14 at 11:30am at HAVEN in Merrill.

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Carl Bloechl and Lissa Iwanoski are both EMTs. Carl is also a R.N. in Antigo.

For four years now, the couple sets up decorations at an office building off of Highway 45 in Elcho.

It takes a couple of weeks and they use their time in between shifts to get the job done.

"We just hope we don't get called. Sometimes we do get called and we just drop it all and leave it out here and go," said Bloechl.

The cold winter weather usually slows down the set up, but this year's warmer weather allowed the couple to enjoy the visitors earlier.

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