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Bucks president softens criticism of Milwaukee as ‘racist’

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said he’s eager to work with Bucks president Peter Feigin to improve the city’s race relations after the NBA executive last week called the city the “most segregated, racist place” he has seen.

However, Feigin said this week in a statement that he didn’t intend to characterize the city as “overtly racist,” that it’s “a terrific community with wonderful people” and he is “proud to be a part of it.” according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Barrett and Feigin, who is from New York City, had a “good conversation” on Monday, the mayor said.

“I hope we can change his feelings, but to do that, we’ve got a lot of work to do,” Barrett said.

Last week, the Wisconsin State Journal reported that Feigin called Milwaukee the “most segregated, racist place I’ve ever experienced in my life” during a speech in Madison.

“It just is a place that is antiquated. It is in desperate need of repair and has happened for a long, long time. One of our messages and one of our goals is to lead by example,” Feigin was quoted as saying.

In his statement on Tuesday, Feigin said the comment came as he was “addressing a question about the social, economic and geographic divides that exist and how we can help address them.”

Barrett said that Feigin and the Bucks’ ownership team “seem to be a willing partner” to address the racial disparities in the city of 600,000 along Lake Michigan, which a 2012 Manhattan Institute analysis of census data found is the country’s most segregated metropolitan area, surpassing Chicago, Cleveland and Detroit.

Feigin has said the team is committed to helping Milwaukee. In May, the Bucks’ owners agreed to pay workers at the new $500 million downtown arena at least $12 per hour by next year, and at least $15 per hour by 2023. The agreement also includes provisions to protect workers’ ability to unionize and ensure that the team hires workers from Milwaukee’s poorest neighborhoods.

The deal is expected to apply to about 1,000 employees, including full- and part-time workers at the arena and the team’s practice facility and parking garage.

Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed bipartisan legislation in August 2015 that committed taxpayers to paying half the cost of the arena over the next 20 years in exchange for the team remaining in Milwaukee. The new arena is expected to open in 2018.

Walker eased lead rules after soliciting money from lead paint producer

A leading lead manufacturer was among a host of corporate leaders who donated to a conservative group that helped Gov. Scott Walker and Republican legislators fend off recall challenges.

The Guardian, a British newspaper, obtained 1,500 pages of leaked documents from a secret investigation into whether Walker’s recall campaign illegally coordinated with outside conservative groups. That investigation was halted in 2015 by the Wisconsin Supreme Court under a ruling by right-wing justices who received millions of dollars in donations from the same outside groups that were charged in the case.

The documents show Walker was interested in getting Harold Simmons, the billionaire owner of NL Industries, which was a major producer of lead that was used in paint before such practices were banned, to donate to the conservative Wisconsin Club for Growth. That group, backed by the Koch brothers, worked in coordination with Walker’s campaign to fight a 2012 attempt to recall the governor. Simmons gave the group $750,000 in 2011 and 2012, at the height of recall efforts.

After Simmons’ donations, the Wisconsin Legislature’s finance committee tucked language into the 2013–15 state budget granting immunity to lead manufacturers from lead paint poisoning lawsuits. Staff members for three Republicans on that committee who were recalled in 2011 didn’t immediately respond to email messages inquiring about whether the immunity was in return for the Club for Growth donations.

Walker and the state’s majority Republican legislators also used the state budget to loosen the regulation of lead paint. In addition to the producers of lead paint, the real estate and construction industries strongly oppose any regulation on lead, despite its potential deadliness. Like NL Industries, construction and real-estate companies are major donors to Walker and Wisconsin Republicans.

On July 23, 2015, the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign issued a press statement shedding light on the great length that Walker and the GOP went to protect manufacturers of lead paint. A last-minute budget amendment by GOP legislators changed the legal definition of lead paint “to increase the amount of lead that must be in liquid or dry paint before state regulations kick in,” according to WDC.

The amendment also prevented state administrative rules from being updated to reflect any future statutory definition of lead paint that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention might enact to protect public health.

Lead paint is toxic. It can cause a range of health problems, especially in young children, when it’s absorbed into the body. It causes damage to the brain, kidneys, nerves and blood. Lead may also cause behavioral problems, learning disabilities, seizures and even death.

Corrosion of lead pipes damages water supplies. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett recently urged everyone living in a home built before 1951 — about 700,000 city residences — to get a filter capable of removing the toxin from water.

The documents leaked by The Guardian also showed that Walker and his fundraisers solicited money for the Wisconsin Club for Growth from hedge-fund billionaire Stephen Cohen, who gave the club $1 million; Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone, who gave $25,000; and hedge-fund manager and Manhattan Institute for Policy Research Chairman Paul Singer, who gave $250,000.

Such donations are legal under the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, which said restrictions on corporations’ political spending were unconstitutional.

Prosecutors had alleged Walker and his fundraising team asked potential contributors to donate to Wisconsin Club for Growth and other groups so they could run ads supporting him in the recalls. But the right-wing majority on the state’s high court said Walker had done nothing illegal, because coordination between candidates and outside groups on so-called issue advertising — ads that don’t expressly call for a candidate’s election or defeat — is permissible.

The justices, however, did not say that campaigns and outside groups could coordinate fundraising activities. Prosecutors have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to let them re-start the investigation, and justices will consider that request on Sept. 26.

Walker campaign spokesman Joe Fadness issued a statement Wednesday calling the investigation “baseless.”

Club For Growth attorney David Rivkin said in an email that prosecutors made up crimes that don’t exist and called their appeal “legally frivolous and just another publicity stunt intended to tarnish their targets’ reputations and salvage their own.”

Previously released documents show iron mining company Gogebic Taconite gave the club $700,000. Walker later signed a bill easing regulations to help clear the path for the company’s mine near Lake Superior. The company ultimately gave up plans for the mine, however.

Minority Democrats said during a news conference that the documents raise more questions about what other legislation Republicans may have passed in exchange for donations to outside groups.

‘It appears we have more payback than policy,” Rep. Dana Wachs of Eau Claire said.

Spokeswomen for Republican Senate and Assembly leaders didn’t immediately respond to email messages.

 

Struggling man killed by Milwaukee policeman he knew from school

The man killed in a police shooting that sparked two nights of violence in Milwaukee suffered from cognitive and mental health issues, and he carried a gun because he had been shot more than once in the past, his grandfather said.

Sylville Smith had a lengthy criminal past, but was just trying to survive in the inner city, William Brookins told The Associated Press.

“In this city, there’s a lot of killings going on in the street,” said Brookins, who detailed Smith’s problems in a letter to a judge last year seeking mercy for his grandson. “He was afraid for his life. He was concerned about his safety and surviving.”

Smith, 23, was shot and killed Saturday after a brief foot chase that followed a traffic stop. Police say Smith was fleeing, and officials have said the officer’s body camera shows him being shot after he turned toward the officer with a gun in his hand.

CNN reported that the as-yet unnamed officer responsible for the shooting knew Sylville from high school.

“The officer knew him personally from high school and he still shot him,” Sylville Smith’s sister Sherelle Smith told CNN.

“He didn’t like my brother,” she said. “The officer had a career, but my brother was more popular. He used to harass Sylville.”

A source close to the family accused the young officer, who like Sylville Smith was a young African-American man, of having a “personal vendetta” against Smith.

A few hours after the shooting, violence erupted on the city’s largely black North Side, with protesters hurling rocks at police and burning six businesses. A lighter night of protests followed Sunday. Monday was calm, though 10 people were arrested. There were no reports of protesters gathering on Tuesday night.

The cost of damages to eight buildings during the riots could be in the millions, according to multiple sources. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, MPD Chief Edward Flynn and other leaders have blamed outside agitators, particularly from Chicago, for inciting the violence.

Flynn blamed a Chicago chapter of the Revolutionary Communist Party for upending what had begun as a peaceful demonstration on Aug. 13. Fourteen people were arrested. Three police officers and four sheriff’s deputies were hurt.

Run-ins with the law

Smith had several run-ins with the law dating to 2013, including speeding, driving without insurance, driving with a suspended license and having open alcohol in a vehicle.

In 2013, he was charged with felony retail theft for allegedly stealing $1,600 worth of DVDs from a Milwaukee Wal-Mart. According to a criminal complaint, Smith and another man were seen removing fans from their boxes and putting the DVDs in the boxes. Prosecutors later dismissed the charge.

A year later, he was charged with carrying a concealed weapon without a permit, a misdemeanor. According to court documents, two officers on bike patrol approached Smith and his friends after smelling marijuana in their vehicle and found a loaded .45-caliber pistol under Smith’s shirt. Smith pleaded guilty and was sentenced to one day in jail.

In early 2015, Smith was charged with reckless endangerment, a felony. Investigators alleged he opened fire on a man in retaliation for the man’s role in a fight between some girls weeks earlier. According to a complaint, Smith and the man got into a car chase before the man finally stopped and ran on foot. Smith chased after the man and shot at him. He eluded Smith by hiding behind a house, according to the complaint.

As that case was pending, Smith was charged with felony intimidation of a witness — the man he was accused of shooting at. Prosecutors said he had his girlfriend call the man and pressure him to recant. The man did, according to prosecutors, who dropped both cases that year.

Brookins said his grandson’s criminal record was “nothing in comparison to other people.” He said Smith had never been convicted of a felony.

“That’s the law, OK,” Brookins said. “He’s not guilty.”

He described Smith as a good kid with a “beautiful personality.”

Smith was known for his hip-hop dance moves and trained in gymnastics when he was in middle school, Brookins said.

He also suffered from mental health issues, Brookins said. He declined to go into detail, saying only that Smith had problems with “comprehension and understanding” and spent time in special classes in elementary and middle school. In a letter to the judge in the reckless endangerment case, Brookins wrote that Smith was receiving Social Security payments because of his mental health problems.

Smith had been shot on more than one occasion, Brookins said. The last time was “a few years ago” when he was hit six times in front of his mother’s house. His grandfather did not have any information on what precipitated the shooting but said Smith still carried bullet fragments in his body.

Smith started carrying a gun after that incident.

“That really had a great effect on him and his fear of being hurt and the need to protect himself from people trying to do him harm,” Brookins said.

Milwaukee police could not immediately confirm Brookins’ account. A spokesman told The Associated Press to file a records request.

Smith’s mother, Mildred Haynes, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that her son had recently received his concealed-carry license because he had been shot twice and robbed four times, including a robbery in which he was stripped of all his clothes. He leaves behind a 2-year-old son.

“I’m not going to say he was an angel. He was out here living his life,” Smith’s godmother, Katherine Mahmoud, told the newspaper.

“It’s hard to grasp he’s no longer here,” Brookins said. “Oh, my God. This is terrible

 

 

National Guard on standby in Milwaukee following riots in Sherman Park

The National Guard  has been put on standby to assist the Milwaukee Police Department — if needed — after protests last night turned violent in the city’s Sherman Park neighborhood, said Mayor Tom Barrett during a news conference this afternoon.

Barrett said Gov. Scott Walker decided to call for federal assistance after consulting with him by telephone; but the decision on whether to deploy the National Guard would be made by MPD Chief Edward Flynn, who is monitoring the situation.

Barrett said he’d never seen anything in Milwaukee like the melee that broke out yesterday near North 35th Street and West Burleigh, where several businesses — including a BMO Harris Bank branch, a beauty supply company and O’Reilly Auto Parts stores — were set on fire.

“Last night was unlike anything I have ever seen in my adult life in this city. I hope I never see it again,” said the mayor, who was visibly shaken.

The riotous situation was sparked by the fatal police shooting of a man yesterday. He was running from police after his car was stopped due to what MPD called “suspicious” behavior.

As many as 800 protesters clashed with police officers for several hours last night before police were able to bring the situation under control. Four officers were injured during the standoff with the crowd, and some media outlets reported that shots were fired by protesters at the police. Barrett and other officials said the riot was fueled by calls for action on social media.

Milwaukee has avoided eruptions of violence following police shootings of unarmed black men in the city and elsewhere over the past two years. City officials expressed disappointment about yesterday’s tragic events.

According to some officials, recent years have seen progress in the predominantly black Sherman Park area. Several dozen volunteers associated with the Coalition for Justice assisted the city this morning with cleaning up the rubble left from last night’s riots, according to The Associated Press

At this afternoon’s news conference, Flynn identified the man killed as 23-year-old Sylville K. Smith, who has a “lengthy arrest record,” according to police. Barrett said that a still image pulled from a video of the shooting recorded by body camera shows “without question” that Smith had a gun in his hand when he was shot. Barrett said the video is part of a vigorous state investigation of the shooting.

Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel promised today that the state’s Department of Justice would quickly to come to a conclusion about whether there’s any criminal culpability in Smith’s death. Unlike similar high-profile shootings, in this case both Smith and the officer who shot him are African American.

Police said the semi-automatic gun that Smith was carrying was stolen in Waukesha.

It remains unclear whether Smith was threatening police or just seeking to elude them at the time he was shot. Barrett said a thorough examination of the footage taken from the officer’s body camera is underway to assess exactly how the killing unfolded.

Both the victim and the officer who shot him are black.

U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore was among the leaders who’ve called for peace tonight on Milwaukee’s streets.

“As details continue to emerge about this shooting, I ask our community to remain calm and recommit to doing everything in our collective power to live up to our nation’s promise of ‘justice for all.’ Together, Milwaukee will weather this storm,” Moore said in a press statement.

“I share the frustration of my constituents who feel they live in a city where justice is only afforded to some and not all. I also share the frustration of our local police officers who are desperately trying to uphold public safety in what they perceive as a caustic climate. We must find a way to strike a balance where we can peacefully point out the racial inequities in our society while recognizing the valuable role police play in our community.

Moore and others called on leaders to address the social issues beneath incidents such as Saturday’s.

“We simply cannot close our eyes to the hostile environment cultivated by the flagrant racial inequality and segregation that has plagued Milwaukee for generations,” Moore said.

Many people — public officials, religious leaders and ordinary citizens — weighed in about yesterday’s shooting on social media.

Milwaukee Ald. Khalif Rainey posted a statement last night that was shared by many on Facebook today.

“The city has watched this particular neighborhood (Sherman Park), throughout the entire summer, be a powder keg. From incidents in the park, to shootings, this entire community has witnessed how Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has become the worst place to live for African Americans in the entire country. Now this is the warning cry,” Rainey wrote.

“Where do we go as a community from here? Do we continue with the inequity, the injustice, the unemployment, the under-education that creates these byproducts that we see this evening? Do we continue that?

“Something has to be done here in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to address these issues. The black people of Milwaukee are tired of living under oppression. This is their existence. This is their life, and the lives of their children.

What happened tonight was not right, I am not justifying that. But no one can deny the fact that there are racial problems here that have to be rectified.”

GOP rep uses racist code in threat to cut Milwaukee funding

Using code words evoking racist fears among the white suburbanites she represents, a Republican lawmaker promised Tuesday to push for state funding cuts to the city unless Mayor Tom Barrett gets tougher on crime.

Rep. Janel Brandtjen of Menomonee Falls was incensed that a Milwaukee police chase ended in one of the suburban counties in her right-wing district, which includes parts of Washington and Waukesha counties. Her over-the-top statement drew rebukes from both parties. Rep. Mandela Barnes, a Milwaukee Democrat, accused her of “Donald Trump style fear mongering,” and even fellow right-wing Republican Robin Vos, the Assembly speaker, called for “less rhetoric.”

Brandtjen issued a heavily exaggerated news release Tuesday complaining about how residents in her district spent last Thursday morning in fear for their lives as police searched for five teens who’d carjacked a woman’s Honda Civic at gunpoint in Milwaukee on Wednesday afternoon.

Police spotted the teens shortly after midnight on Thursday morning and chased them into Washington County. The teens abandoned the car after it got a flat tire and fled on foot. Officers spent hours searching for them in the dark before finally capturing them without incident, according to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report.

Brandtjen said in her release that homeowners were held hostage in their own homes and “families were forced to unlock their gun cabinets and instruct their loved ones to shoot to kill. The violence and crime that has plagued Milwaukee for decades has now begun to spill over into Milwaukee’s suburbs. I lay the responsibility for this growing and out of control problem at the door of the Mayor’s office.”

She went on to say that she’ll openly advocate for funding cuts to Milwaukee unless Barrett dramatically cuts crime in the city. She called on the mayor to fill vacant police positions, arrest car thieves, demand repeat offenders go to prison and stand up to judges who let repeat offenders off easy.

“I will no longer sit by while you destroy Milwaukee and its flourishing suburbs,” she said. “I cannot justify financing your failed policies in Milwaukee until you take public safety seriously.”

Brandtjen  did not offer any actual accounts of anyone being taken hostage, arming themselves or telling loved ones to shoot to kill in the news release. Pressed in a phone interview, she said people in the neighborhood told her SWAT teams came to their homes and told them to stay inside. She said the neighbors told her that they were texting each about shooting to kill if they found an intruder in their house.

Barrett is a Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for governor twice against Republican Scott Walker. His spokeswoman didn’t immediately return a message.

Barnes, who is black, issued a statement entitled “Donald Trump Style Fear Mongering by GOP Legislator.” He said in a telephone interview that the release carries a racial undertone and is trying to play on fears of minorities.

“It’s a lot of dog-whistle rhetoric,” Barnes said.

Brandjten is white. She made no mention of race in her release. Asked for reaction to Barnes’ statement, she replied that bullets don’t notice skin color.

“I’m asking for change so we can keep everybody safe,” she said.

Brandtjen is a freshman legislator who doesn’t even sit on the Legislature’s budget-writing committee. Vos said in an email to The Associated Press that situations like the chase require “less rhetoric and more realistic solutions.”

Associated Press writer Todd Richmond provided the reporting for this story.

 

Mayor Tom Barrett confident in State of the City address

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett struck a confident tone during his State of the City address on Feb. 8, despite a spike in homicides and a federal review of the city’s police department.

Barrett said his plan for Wisconsin’s largest city includes economic development, health care and violence prevention, but he didn’t mention the Department of Justice-led investigation of Milwaukee police. He said a plan to put body cameras on each officer by the end of the year is “on-track and on-budget,” and that the effort is vital for transparency and reform. The federal review was launched following the shooting death of a homeless black man at the hands of a white officer in a downtown park that spawned a series of protests. The officer involved was fired but not prosecuted.

Here’s what the mayor said about key issues:

HOMICIDES: Barrett acknowledged a significant increase in homicides — 145 in 2015, compared with 86 the previous year — and said the solution would involve community partnerships focused on youth development. He also said the county and state should work with Milwaukee police to deal with violent young offenders. Barrett said over a heckler that police took 2,500 guns off the street in 2015, a 9 percent increase over the previous year. An unidentified woman yelled: “What about the children?”

YOUTH PRISONS: The mayor didn’t mention an ongoing investigation into allegations of abuse at Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake during his address, but he said afterward that he planned to speak with stakeholders about the matter this week. He said the situation at the Irma facilities was “a fiasco — a manmade disaster.” He said he was aware of a Milwaukee County plan to move 170 young offenders from Lincoln Hills but that alternative housing hasn’t been announced.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: Barrett said the city will continue to reduce neighborhood blight by selling foreclosed homes, demolishing run-down buildings and giving vacant lots to adjacent property owners. He said the work has created jobs and raised property values. He also touted a construction boom downtown and said many contracts have gone to local small businesses.

HEALTH CARE: Barrett hailed a new clinic that plans to offer adolescent and primary care on the northwest side, where he said a large population has few options for children’s health care. He also addressed a plan to put nursing students in two dozen schools and efforts to reduce teen pregnancies.

REFUGEES: The mayor delivered his remarks from the Hmong American Peace Academy. He said that as politicians call for limiting refugee entries, it’s important to recognize the origins of a community that has found success after fleeing Southeast Asia during and after the Vietnam War.

RE-ELECTION: Barrett, a Democrat who was elected mayor in 2004, is seeking re-election and faces a primary challenge Feb. 16 from Alderman Bob Donovan, Alderman Joe Davis and James Methu. 

Mayor Barrett wants to equip all MPD officers on the street with body cameras by end of 2016

All Milwaukee police officers on the street would be wearing body cameras by the end of 2016 under a proposal announced July 30 by Mayor Tom Barrett.

The proposal, first reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (http://bit.ly/1JqBjAX ), comes after tense episodes between police and Milwaukee’s African-American community and fatal shootings by police in Ferguson, Missouri; Cleveland; and North Charleston, South Carolina, that sparked discussion nationwide about race and policing. Last year, 31-year-old Dontre Hamilton was fatally shot by a Milwaukee police officer in a downtown park.

According to Barrett’s preliminary budget, body cameras for 1,200 Milwaukee street officers — including storage of video information — would cost $880,000 in 2016 and about $1 million a year beginning in 2017.

The estimated cost is about what it would cost to add 12 officers to the department’s ranks of 1,880 sworn officers, Barrett told the newspaper.

“The question is: Is it worth 12 officers?” the mayor asked. “That’s a legitimate public policy debate.”

He added: “I embrace it wholeheartedly, both from a fiscal standpoint and from a policy standpoint.”

Both Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn and the president of the Milwaukee Police Association, Mike Crivello, support the initiative.

“If that’s OK with (citizens), it’s sure OK with us because, from the average officer’s point of view, it’s going to overwhelmingly put in context what they’re dealing with, what they try to do and what actually happens,” Flynn said at Marquette University last week.

“We’re looking forward to getting them,” he said.

Appearing with the mayor on July 30, Flynn said Milwaukee police officers will have discretion to turn off the cameras for certain sensitive calls as part of a new department policy on use of the devices.

“This is new territory for American citizens as well as for police departments, and balancing a reasonable expectation of privacy when you summon the police department to deal with a family crisis has to be balanced with our need to be accountable and transparent,” Flynn said.

Crivello said there is “no doubt” the cameras “will absolutely depict the professionalism that our officers display on a daily basis.”

If Barrett’s proposal is approved, Milwaukee would join a growing number of police departments nationwide that are considering the use of body cameras or already outfitting some officers.

Attorney Robin Shellow represents some of the more than 60 people who have filed civil rights lawsuits against the City of Milwaukee and the Police Department alleging improper strip and cavity searches. While Shellow said she supports body cameras for police, she thinks more needs to be done.

“Yes, I believe in body cameras, but more importantly I think we should have police officers with college educations,” Shellow said. “I think that would do a lot more to reduce unconstitutional interactions.”

Milwaukee County to unveil plan to ‘end chronic homelessness’

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett will introduce on June 9 an initiative to address chronic homelessness. Abele and Barrett are set to hold a news conference at the new Thurgood Marshall Apartments and talk about a campaign to “end chronic homelessness” in the county in three years.

“Although the county has been involved in addressing homelessness for years, we decided that incremental progress was no longer good enough for our community,” Abele said in a news release on June 8. “We are ending chronic homelessness. And we are doing it in three years. I want to thank Mayor Tom Barrett for his support of this initiative and the city’s role.”

A chronically homeless individual is someone who has experienced homelessness for one year or longer, or who has experienced at least four episodes of homelessness in the past three years and has a disability.

Instead of the traditional approach of providing short-term subsistence through the provision of shelter beds, the plan to be introduced on June 9 “empowers the chronically homeless by providing housing that is permanent. Permanent housing is demonstrated to yield better outcomes for the chronically homeless and the community at-large.”

Barrett said, “This initiative is a creative and cost-effective extension of the city/county/housing authority partnership that, since 2008, has provided nearly 500 new permanent supportive housing units for individuals and families at risk of homelessness. Now, we are collaborating to address the needs of the most challenging segment of the homeless population in our community.” 

Through this partnership, about $1.8 million a year will be devoted to ending chronic homelessness in the county.

Program participants will receive case management services from the Milwaukee County Housing Division to address mental health and substance abuse issues. Case managers also will assess job readiness and help program participants find work. 

This approach will fund an expansion of the Housing First model, which is based on the approach that, despite often having many needs, a homeless individual or household’s first and primary need is to obtain stable, affordable, quality housing. 

“By implementing the Housing First model in our community, we will be able to immediately place homeless individuals directly into permanent housing,” said Jim Mathy, Milwaukee County Housing Division administrator. “Not only will this be a life-changing event for those that are experiencing homelessness, but national data shows that implementing Housing First also results in savings from reduced public service costs.” 

The move to Housing First advances individuals toward independence by helping to address root level causes of social issues for this population and by shifting governmental strategy on homelessness from short-term fixes to long-term solutions.

“In the last four years, we took the difficult steps of improving our fiscal condition and reducing our debt and borrowing costs at the county,” said Abele. “The reason we took those steps was to create the capacity to tackle Milwaukee’s big issues in a substantive way. I’m proud to say that the ‘Plan to End Chronic Homelessness in Milwaukee County’ does just that.”