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Attention to the homeless in Oshkosh | WTAQ News Talk | 97.5 FM · 1360 AM

OSHKOSH, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) – Homelessness is a growing problem throughout Northeast Wisconsin, and that includes Oshkosh.

Even after the opening of a new shelter last summer, many still have no place to stay.

“I used to sleep there all the time – in the same place,” said Major Pines, an Oshkosh resident. “I slept there for, I want to say, three weeks.”

For months, unhoused residents like Pines slept outside near the Orrin King building downtown.

“When we got involved, we realized it was much more than the three or four people we were told about,” said ESTHER lead organizer Katie Olson. “Maybe we can find a different kind of shielding on the grille itself, but where people can still access the heat source.”

Some say they have recently been asked to move.

“The police were just here and they said they were going to fine people for living here,” Olson said.

In response, ESTHER held a press conference on Thursday outlining their concerns about the overall treatment of the homeless population.

“Let’s give them resources. If illegal activities are taking place, why is it happening? If drugs are being used, let’s get some AODA counseling and get these people sheltered,” Olson said.

The group is asking city and county leadership for answers and a path forward. FOX 11 reached out to City Manager Mark Rohloff. In response, a city spokesperson referred us to Kate Mann, the Oshkosh Police Department’s public information officer.

Mann said OPD responded early Thursday morning to a complaint of excessive noise outside the Orrin King building. It was determined that an individual was deliberately attempting to disrupt the homeless population. According to Mann, that person, who is not homeless, was the only person mentioned. Mann says no one else was issued a summons or told to leave.

“More help from the community as a whole as everyone comes together more, less drugs, more productivity, even finding people jobs or low-income housing. if it is available,” Pines said. “Anything that can make someone’s path straight, that’s what I’d like to see come out of this.”

We also reached out to Winnebago County Executive Jon Doemel. In a phone call, a representative from his office said the county remains committed to finding solutions for the homeless population. He added that no threats of citations have come from the province.

ESTHER leadership says they have begun discussions with the city and province.

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