Homeless look for places to store belongings through winter
MADISON, Wis. — Vicky Lewandowski has spent the majority of her nights since September sleeping at the City-County Building where she also keeps her belongings, but in a blink of an eye all she owned was gone.
“Your survival kicks in. Today was like a normal day and then all of a sudden we lost everything that helps us battle the elements. The first thing I was thinking is, ‘How am I going to stay warm? Am I going to try to find shelter? Am I going to have to recover blankets?'” Lewandowski said.
Wednesday morning county employees removed two truckloads of homeless belongings left in front of the building Lewandowski calls home.
An ordinance allows Madison employees to throw away any items less than $50 in value if left abandoned. Anything worth more than $50 would be turned in to the city, where it would be held for 30 days to be reclaimed.
“There’s a lot of money in those sacks and it keeps us warm. We have no place to store them. There is a predicament with the center storage area to keep it open we have no place to put this stuff,” she said.
Over two dozen bags were eventually dropped off at the Social Justice Storage Center, however with limited space citizens say more needs to be done.
“The city and the county have to come together and come up with a solution to this. We definitely need a day center downtown where people are. People can’t get out to the site that has been chosen,” homeless advocate Brenda Konkel said.
Konkel and other volunteers from the storage facility returned the items to their owners in hopes they will help them survive more night on the streets.
“I can’t imagine 30 or 40 people going 16 blocks down the street picking up their stuff and hauling it all back up here. We are trying to save dollars and make sure people are warm tonight because that is the most critical thing,” Konkel said.
Reunited with all that she owns and uncertain with what tomorrow will bring, Lewandowski is grateful to have one more night with her survival kit close by.
“Tomorrow is another day, one day at a time,” Lewandowski said.