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United Way Blog

Facing Homelessness After an Unexpected Loss

For many people, the challenges of everyday finances are all too real. Just ask Johnny from Milwaukee, a longtime resident who experienced an unimaginable loss that led to a period of homelessness. After the unexpected death of his wife of 30 years, Johnny found himself on the streets.

Struggling to get back on his feet, Johnny heard about the Guest House of Milwaukee, a United Way-funded emergency shelter program, and decided to check it out.

“I told them I just needed a place to stay for a couple of weeks to get back on my feet,” said Johnny. “I had lived in the same place with one woman for 30 years, and suddenly I was living with 60 men I didn’t know.”

While the move was an adjustment for Johnny, it was a worthwhile one. With the help of United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County, Johnny found permanent housing, overcame his hardships and regained his financial footing.

“It’s easy to imagine the devastation Johnny felt after losing his wife and home,” Krystina Kohler, United Way’s Financial Stability Portfolio Manager. “Johnny didn’t give up on himself, though, because United Way had invested in the resources he needed to not only have safe shelter, but overcome the root causes of his homelessness.”

Making ends meet is a daily struggle for millions of people like Johnny. Whether it’s through Project Homeless Connect, an annual day of service that connects local homeless with services like financial planning, or My Smart Money, a free online tool that can help anyone become smarter about their finances, United Way is continually investing in people and, in turn, their communities.

To learn how you can support struggling families and individuals in your community, reach out to your local United Way. If you’re in need of financial assistance, visit 211.org or call 2-1-1 to connect with a support system. One call can put you on a path toward a more financially stable future.