MADISON, Wis. (WBAY) - Gov. Scott Walker has signed two bills into law dealing with Wisconsin's homelessness problem.
Gov. Scott Walker has signed Assembly Bill 234, which establishes a Council on Homelessness in Wisconsin.
He also signed AB 236, which calls for the creation of a program to give priority to the chronically homeless on the housing voucher waiting list.
As part of our Target 2 Investigates reports on the homelessness problem in Northeast Wisconsin, we found a year-long wait list, at 400 people and counting, looking for the federal housing subsidy. That's just in Brown County.
The council's job will be to establish a statewide policy on ending homelessness. It will be made up of representatives from different departments in the state.
Majority Leader Jim Steineke of Kaukauna is one of the lead authors of the bill. He says the council will develop "a comprehensive, strategic plan to end homelessness."
“Today is a turning point for the way Wisconsin addresses the scourge of homelessness that affects too many of our neighbors. All along, we have touted these bills as a first step, and today our state took that first step in a meaningful way. For the first time in our state’s history, we will have an institution, inscribed in law, whose sole purpose is to coordinate our approach to ending this devastating form of poverty," - Rep. Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna)
Action 2 News spoke with Rep. Steineke as part of our Target 2 series on the homeless problem.
Steineke and other lawmakers started working on four homeless bills in April. Two were written into the budget. The council and housing vouchers bills were signed on Nov. 27.
"We were up here in Green Bay a few months ago, and I was talking to a homeless gentleman," Steineke said. "It was just mind boggling to me that he doesn't have a place to go at night to sleep. He doesn't have a place to shower. He's moving around quite a bit and yet he's able to hold on to a job."
The state budget puts aside one-million dollars over the next two years to go to intensive case management services for homeless families through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF funds.
Another $75,000 will go to one municipality, yet to be determined, to start a pilot program connecting homeless people with jobs and workforce training.
In our Target 2 reports, we found most homeless families are already working, just not making enough to make ends meet.
Target 2 Investigates reports on homelessness: