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Sen. Cory Tomczyk and Rep. Alex Dallman: Fight homelessness across Wisconsin

Communities across Wisconsin are struggling to address our state’s evolving homelessness crisis. In response, the Wisconsin State Assembly recently passed AB 689, which expands the tools available to local communities to better help our vulnerable neighbors who sleep on the streets each night.

Over the last five years, the needs of our state’s homeless population have changed considerably. Data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development show that Wisconsin has seen a 25 percent increase in the number of unsheltered homeless individuals, which refers to those we encounter sleeping on sidewalks or in parks.

In cities like Madison, a growing number of homeless individuals suffer from severe mental illness, up 16 percent since 2018. Milwaukee fared better until 2023, when it saw a 430 percent increase in unsheltered homelessness in a single year, reversing its progress to levels last seen in 2019. And in just one year, from 2022 to 2023, the total number of unsheltered homeless increased by nearly 70 percent statewide. Anyone who walks around our streets and parks sees this, and the data back it up.

Leaving homeless individuals to sleep on sidewalks or in parks is not just unacceptable; it is cruel. Much of our state has shelter space available, but there are few resources and no consequences for municipalities that continue to ignore the needs of those living out in the dangers of the streets. Nor is there accountability for service providers who fail to help their clients transition out of homelessness. This has created a crisis that affects us all.

Read the full piece at Wisconsin State Journal »