MUSKEGO, Wis. (CBS 58) — Finding a place to live is just the first step towards ending homelessness.
The next challenge is making a house into a home. That’s where Glenn Kozicki comes in.
He and his crew at Heritage Home Delivers collect furniture for people furnishing a new place.
CBS 58 went along for a recent delivery and they had a big crew to make loading up the delivery truck quick work.
“Ron, from our church; Ward, my best friend; Scott, who is amazing,” Kozicki said, pointing out his volunteers.
They got busy, packing up tables, chairs and beds — everything needed to make a house feel cozy.
“Our mission is to serve homeless people that have just been placed in housing and usually start with nothing,” Kozicki said.
Kozicki said dressers are the most often requested piece of furniture, but they have most everything on hand. The organization stores donated furniture in several storage spaces in Muskego. Then they deliver it where it needs to go, getting referrals from Milwaukee County.
“Since October 2020, we’ve done 102 deliveries,” Kozicki said of the deliveries they’ve done through the county. In total, the organization has done nearly 200 deliveries.
The first stop of the day was to LeRoy Ware’s apartment in West Allis.
“Well, I needed a couch. Number one, I needed a couch,” Ware said.
They brought him a futon, among other things.
Ware lives on disability, got behind on his rent and was evicted.
“Next thing I know, sheriff’s tapping me on my feet, saying I got a half hour to get out,” Ware remembered.
But with this delivery, he’s getting back on his feet.
“I want to invite my family over now, and you know, they’ll have more places to sit,” he said.
Creating that safety and security is what the program is all about.
“Housing ends homelessness, nothing else,” said Luke Rosynek, quality assurance and strategy coordinator for the county.
Luke Rosynek sees it every day, doing homeless outreach.
“Sure, we can work really hard to get somebody off the street, get them an apartment that they like, but if they don’t feel comfortable and supported there, will they stay?” Rosynek said.
And that’s why this furniture, which a lot of us take for granted, means so much.
Heritage Home Delivers is a helpful partner for the county to have, too.
“We find the gaps. Most government programs don’t pay for furniture,” Rosynek said, noting that some people transitioning out of homelessness live in empty spaces initially.
Over the last few years, Milwaukee County has seen a major reduction in homelessness.
“We found out that we have had the largest reduction in homelessness in the nation. And so the street homeless count has reduced by 92%,” Rosynek said.
Kozicki gives all the credit to those doing homeless outreach.
“That’s the hard work. They’re taking people off the streets, finding them housing and then he gets referrals to us, but that’s the hardest thing to do. We’re doing some of the easy stuff, I think,” he said.
The second stop of the day involves even more furniture.
“They need beds. They need dressers, bunch of chairs, a bunch of new stuff to get started, Rosynek said.
It’s all for a mother and her five children.
“Glenn doesn’t know the individuals and families before he walks in their door, but then when he leaves, they have a bed to sleep in,” Rosynek said of Kozicki’s dedication.
Every referral is a chance to give a family a new start.
“Glenn and Heritage Home have delivered a third of the furniture that Milwaukee County has delivered,” Rosynek said.
Each delivery, filling homes and hearts.
“Oh, wow. They brought everything. They brought everything I needed,” Ware said, with a laugh.
“It gives back everything. I mean, I try to put a lot into it so the people get a lot out of it,” Kozicki said.
Milwaukee County has seen a massive reduction in homelessness in the last year, and now has the lowest per capita homeless count in the nation. If you know someone who needs help, call 2-1-1, or request outreach at 414-263-0989.
Heritage Home Delivers is always looking for furniture donations. For more information, email Kozicki at [email protected]