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No Vacancy at New Homeless Shelter

Stepping Stones of Dunn County has proudly opened a new facility — Cairn House at Stepping Stones — to help serve the needs of individuals experiencing homelessness in Menomonie and Dunn County. The 20-bed facility will provide a marked improvement in services going into the coldest months of this Wisconsin winter.

There is broad community support for the shelter, including the Menomonie Police Department. As Police Chief Rick Hollister expressed, “We are glad to have an opportunity for continuing a partnership with Stepping Stones and look forward to this new resource for our community.”

Stepping Stones staff, law enforcement, and emergency services providers have concerns, however, that people will come to the area expecting to find open rooms at the shelter.

“The shelter is already full, and we have an existing waitlist that has individuals needing to find other accommodations for weeks before we can get them in,” explained Executive Director, Padraig Gallagher, days before Cairn House’s opening.

As a 24-hour shelter, guests will have modest individual rooms throughout their stay. This is a benefit to the people using the program, but it is different than the nights-only model that many people think of when they hear the term ‘Emergency Shelter’.

Cairn House will not accept people nightly on a first-come first-serve basis, unlike many shelters in larger metropolitan areas. For people looking for the safety and security of a shelter bed in the area, there are no other options.

“Our concern is that people come expecting to get help from the new shelter and have nowhere else to turn when they realize that it’s full. This can be dangerous and, in Wisconsin in winter, even deadly,” says Gallagher.

The staff and volunteers of Stepping Stones encourage people who are looking for assistance in Dunn County to reach out to learn more about their programs.

“We are glad to see any community member come through our door,” said Gallagher. “We may not be able to provide the service that they are seeking at that moment, but we are here to help as much as we are able.”

For Assistance: Phone (715-235-2920), Email (, Website (

Media release from Stepping Stones.


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