The Cathedral Center (CCI) was founded to address the very specific need for shelter and support services for women and families. CCI achieves its mission to “provide a safe environment for women and families, while working to end homelessness one life at a time” by offering comprehensive, targeted programs that include emergency shelter, case management services, and, most recently, workforce development.

We are one of the few agencies in Milwaukee that serves individual women and single fathers with their children. Our shelter model also enables us to keep families intact, regardless of size. Located in the heart of downtown Milwaukee, we reach people who do not know where they will sleep next, who are doubled up, moving from house to house, or who have a pending eviction. Our services are free of charge and we serve clients for up to 90 days.

The Cathedral Center serves nearly 1,000 women and families in crisis each year. We work individually to help them develop a strategic, personal plan toward independence that helps:

Secure Safe Housing | Grow Income | Improve Personal Skills


Homelessness is often dangerous, uncomfortable, and leads to significant social consequences if left unaddressed. While there are many causes of homelessness in addition to poverty, data suggests that a scarcity of affordable housing, evictions, untreated mental health and substance abuse issues, and increasing rates of domestic violence are the top facilitators of housing crises for thousands of people on any giving night in Milwaukee.

In addition, today’s portrait of a homeless person has evolved from the single older male to a person who is younger, better educated, and often accompanied by their family. In fact, women and children continue to be the fastest growing segment of the homeless population—a population arguably most vulnerable to victimization.

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On any given night in Milwaukee over 800 people are homeless…and women and children are now experiencing a quickly increasing growth in homelessness! Milwaukee is one of the poorest cities across the nation and, statistics show that Milwaukee is among the worst cities in the United States for people of color to reside in.

The reasons are complicated and myriad: 100% live at or below the poverty level; only 40% were assessed as capable of increased employment; as many as 60% suffer from disabling conditions; many are chronically homeless; all are unemployed/ underemployed; and many have completed high school and some post-secondary.

On a daily basis, people facing homelessness must make “lesser evil choices” in order to survive – sometimes this includes having to choose medication or a warm place to stay, over food. Women and families have been a growing segment of the homeless population since the late 1990s, and many of the women we serve are mothers separated from their children due to poverty and homelessness.

At normal capacity, CCI’s shelter provides 32 beds for women and 8 family rooms. Due to COVID-19-related restrictions, CCI’s shelter is operating at reduced capacity and can currently serve up to 28 unaccompanied women and 8 families with children. In 2020, 32% of homeless individuals were households with children; CCI served 58 families with 142 children in shelter. Those not entering shelter were referred to other services, such as CCI’s Flexible Housing Community Case Management program.

In 2020, over 41% of homeless individuals in Milwaukee reported a serious mental illness or substance abuse disorder; 75% of CCI’s clients report having at least one disability. Often these disabilities are untreated, sometimes for prolonged periods, which makes it challenging to obtain SSI/SSDI benefits. The people we serve are women and families, including two parent families, and their children, who are facing homelessness. Many are dealing with intergenerational poverty, un/under employment, trauma, mental illness, addiction, and other health issues.

CCI’s services are interwoven into the very fabric of Milwaukee’s basic needs services. CCI continues to be the second-highest provider of shelter nights for women and families in Milwaukee; the largest provider of emergency shelter beds for single women; and our community case management program is a unique service listed as a best practice in Milwaukee’s annual HUD application.

How You Can Help


The Cathedral Center

845 N. Van Buren Street
Milwaukee, WI 53202

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The Cathedral Center