Wisconsin organizations that work to shelter and empower homeless people received more than $21 million in federal grants this week.
The secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Shaun Donovan, says the most recent grants will be unaffected by sequestration; if future funding is cut, however, homelessness could rise.
According to HUD, homelessness in Wisconsin went up 4.2 percent overall last year. People who work with the homeless say the federal money is critical to making sure the numbers go down.
Byron Wright is the executive director of Kenosha Human Development Services, which runs the Homeless Youth Project. It was awarded a HUD grant, and he says it pays for most of the program. Wright says they provide housing and case workers for 18-21 year-olds, many of whom have kids of their own.
"In this program, we normally have about nine. I would easily, if I had capacity here for 35-40…be able to fill it."
Wright says if less federal money is available in the future, they will have to look for other funding and ultimately, turn more young adults away.
Bernie Juno is the executive director of Hebron House of Hospitality in Waukesha. Its Jeremy House Safe Haven for single adults with mental illnesses also received a HUD grant. She says receiving that funding has become more competitive over recent years, and she fears less money will be given in the future.
"Of course we're all stressed, because we are concerned that there are some programs that won't get funded."
Juno says cuts at the state and county level, as well as rising medical and transportation costs have put their residents in vulnerable positions.