Gov. Scott Walker’s budget proposal marks the first time in 25 years new funding will be used to combat homelessness, according to an advocacy group.
Joe Volk, executive director of the Wisconsin Coalition Against Homelessness, said the governor’s budget:
- Includes additional money for shelter staff to offer intensive case management services for homeless families.
- Adds $1.3 million over two years for expanding a community re-entry program for released mentally ill inmates
- Creates a homeless services coordinator position at the state Department of Health Services to help draft a federal waiver to allow Medicaid funds to be used for supportive housing programs, which offer housing and personalized case management for homeless adults.
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“Going forward now, this will allow us to do more supportive housing around the state of Wisconsin, which will go a great ways towards reducing the number of homeless people in the state,” Volk said.
He said the last governors to provide new homelessness prevention funding and policy initiatives were Republicans Tony Earl and Tommy Thompson.
“For the first time at the state level in a long, long time, in many, many years the issue is on the table, is on the agenda, and that can only be good long term as we move forward,” Volk said.
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, there were 5,685 homeless individuals in Wisconsin last year. Nearly 1,800 of them were children under age 18.
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