In June 2015, Milwaukee Downtown hosted a symposium for the downtown business community on chronic homelessness and aggressive panhandling. The discussion with City and County leaders followed the recent unveiling of a $1.8 million plan to end chronic homelessness in Milwaukee County over the next three years. Dr. Sam Tsemberis, founder and CEO of Pathways to Housing, was the keynote speaker for the summit offering innovative solutions and success stories of his housing first model, which has proven to be effective in New York City, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia.

At the conclusion of the symposium, Milwaukee Downtown presented three local solutions that would be supported by the Milwaukee County Housing Division and District Attorney’s Office. The plan calls for the addition of a community prosecutor for downtown, addition of a homeless outreach worker for downtown and the opening of a new homeless resource center.

The implementation of these three strategies would provide immediate access to diversion services to assist the business community and provide accountability to those who habitually exhibit nuisance behaviors in the central business district. The cost to implement these initiatives is approximately $230,000 annually. Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21 is currently seeking the funding to fulfill these much-needed services. If you would like additional info on getting involved, contact Beth Weirick at bweirick@milwaukeedowntown.com