The Cathedral Center (CCI) began in 1996 as the result of a community-wide collaboration to address the lack of shelter space for women and children – and was Milwaukee’s first and only women’s overflow shelter. Operating initially in common areas of local churches, Cathedral Center’s emergency shelter program was a partnership of the American Red Cross, Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, Columbia St. Mary’s-St. Ben’s Clinic (now Ascension St. Ben’s Clinic), Milwaukee County Department of Health & Human Services, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Inc., and Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.

      In April 2002, Cathedral Center (CCI) was formally incorporated as a 501 (c) (3), nonprofit, nonsectarian organization, and in 2003, moved all operations to 845 N. Van Buren St., at the corners of North Van Buren Street and East Kilbourn Avenue. At present, Cathedral Center’s emergency shelter has capacity to serve up to 28 unaccompanied women and eight families with children for up to 90 days.

In 2014, the Women’s Independence Program (WIP) was launched. This unique three-pronged employment program empowers women and parents to achieve their fullest potential by offering a wide range of support services and weaving in case management services. WIP prepares individuals for the workforce by helping participants to identify and assess skill level and areas of interest; creating a resume’ and cover letter; offering one-on-one and group workshops; interviewing techniques; connecting participants with CCI’s employer partners; and offering ongoing post-employment support.

In 2016, CCI began a partnership with Friendship House of Milwaukee. Located a few blocks from CCI, this Flexible Emergency Housing program is for women and families with children when 90 days in shelter is not enough time to secure safe housing.

In 2020, Cathedral Center was honored to have been selected as a Day 1 Families Fund award recipient. The Day 1 Families Fund supports organizations that are making measurable progress on family homelessness. Cathedral Center is excited to launch new programs and services focused on ending homelessness for families with children faster.


In 2002 CCI became its own 501(c)(3) and all operations moved under one roof at our current location in 2003. The average length of stay that first year was 3 days, growing to 4-6 weeks in 2016. We now provide the 2nd highest number (19.25%) of shelter nights of Milwaukee Shelter & Transitional Housing Task Force members. Community needs have changed over the past 10+ years, and our services have grown from a women’s overflow shelter to a fully utilized emergency shelter for women and families. We are proud of how far we have come and yet we know that we can do more for those we serve.


Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist
Columbia St. Mary’s (St. Ben’s Clinic)

United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County

United Way invests in programs that help adults improve their education level and create a more financially secure future for themselves and their families. As a partnering agency, The Cathedral Center receives support from United Way through their Community Impact Fund and other requests for support. Click here to find out how you can support us through your workplace giving campaign!

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The Cathedral Center

845 N. Van Buren Street
Milwaukee, WI 53202

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The Cathedral Center