© 2024 Milwaukee Public Media is a service of UW-Milwaukee's College of Letters & Science
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Milwaukee County has lowest unsheltered homeless population in the US, according to HUD

Poor homeless man sleeping on a wooden bench
Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley credits the housing first initiative for the major decrease in unsheltered homelessness in Milwaukee County.

While the pandemic exacerbated many issues in Milwaukee, the county has been rising above all others in one area: homelessness. Recently, the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development recognized Milwaukee County as having the lowest unsheltered homeless population in the nation, per capita.

At the last point-in-time count of unsheltered homeless people in the county, only 17 people were identified — marking a 70% decrease from the previous year.

"It's a great distinction to have when you think about all the issues related to housing that we have seen throughout the city, of Milwaukee County and just in general in this nation. I also think it's it shows that collaboration around our Housing First program has really worked," says Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley.

Crowley credits the Housing First initiative for the major decrease in unsheltered homelessness. He believes this approach is helping Milwaukee end the cycle of homelessness. Housing has increasingly become the priority for people who work with the homeless, who say housing makes it easier to address issues like drug use, mental health problems and finding employment.

While shelters play a crucial role in helping getting the homeless off the street, Crowley believes the biggest issue in the county is lack of affordable housing, which he says is necessary to address the issue of chronic homelessness.

"For us, it's about really treating these people with dignity, working with them to find them a permanent solution to the issues that they're facing, and making sure that we wrap around those services around them because we want them to know that we're with them and we want to walk with them throughout this journey until they're in the best place for themselves," says Crowley.

Joy is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.
Kobe Brown was WUWM's fifth Eric Von fellow.
Related Content