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‘Housing Navigator’ position included in Brown County Budget proposal

Published: Oct. 11, 2021 at 5:14 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 11, 2021 at 5:30 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Homelessness is not new to our area, but Brown County officials believe a new position could help those experiencing it find the resources they need quicker. In his 2022 budget plan, Brown County Executive Troy Streckenbach wants to put $84,000 toward a brand new ‘housing navigator’ position.

Erik Pritzl, executive director of Brown County Health and Human Services, said homelessness is changing in our area.

“The homeless population isn’t just adults, or those living with a mental health illness or substance abuse, it’s whole families,” said Pritzl.

Streckenbach said a recent United Ways Alice report shows others may be close to homelessness.

“Forty-two percent of the population is living at or below poverty level…. which indicates, a lot of people are one major financial issue away from potentially making them homeless,” said Streckenbach.

That reality is making county leaders think differently.

“We are taking government in a space historically we have never been—preventive and proactive,” said Streckenbach.

“Stable housing can decrease government spending in the long run and stable housing helps people live better lives, so we want to serve people and county,” said Brown Count Supervisor Joan Brusky.

“There’s a gap when we look at what we do as a department. The coordination isn’t there… there isn’t a single point of contact for other providers to connect with so it’s about relationships. We need to make sure we are connecting with shelters, providers and have someone there—to figure out what gaps and barriers people face,” said Pritzl.

Those better connections created by the new housing navigator could lead to ore help for people, quicker.

“This position would go out where that person is at, and see what services they may need to connect with and connect them sooner and not wait for crisis,” said Pritzl. “So this position dedicates itself to homeless navigation outreach, especially those connecting to other department services, so we can understand where to connect them in our department.”

All those at the press conference say this is just one part of the puzzle.

“We are still looking at housing stock, affordability, other services people need, coordination of system and what barriers there are—lots of work to be done, but this is our effort to connect people within our department,” said Pritzl.

“We are making a strong effort, to rethink and disrupt ways we have done in the past and this is just another path and journey for the county,” said Streckenbach.

The county’s budget proposal will be taken up by the entire Brown County Board of Supervisors on October 27, 2021 at 9:00 a.m. at the Resch Expo.

If the position is approved, Pritzl hopes to have it filled by January 2022.

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