Working homeless find their voice amid affordable housing crisis

BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - Community members who have been suffering in silence are finally finding a voice.

The Big View is a first of its kind public event for the working homeless. Those are people who have jobs but cannot find affordable housing.

The goal is to keep beds empty at homeless shelters by transitioning the homeless into apartments or homes.

That's proved to be a challenge.

"I believe that it's probably gotten a little bit worse. I do," says Sara Williams, President of Leadership Board, JOSHUA.

Williams and Jen Schmohe are focused on solving this problem. They're dedicated to helping people in poverty find their own place.

"Some of our landlords like to require two months rent up front, or your income has to match twice the rent, which can be really challenging if you're only making $10 an hour," says Jen Schmohe, Circles Green Bay Director.

Williams says, "It's not just the vulnerable population here in Green Bay. Absolutely not. It's people that I work with, people that I'm friends with, that could make $15, $16, $17 an hour."

Community leaders and the working homeless are coming together for a community forum called the Big View Event: The Housing Crisis in Brown County.

The forum is Monday, April 29, at Green Bay Community Church, 600 Cardinal Lane. Hours are 6:30 - 8 p.m.

"What our hope is is that we're able to show the community what the problem is and what the entities are in our community that are trying to do something together about the problem," Schmohe says.

They understand the dilemma for landlords who have encountered problems in the past. That's who they want to engage now to show the progress they've made in the last two years.

"That our landlords start to understand that our people have people behind them who are really to advocate and step in if things happen and go wrong," Williams says.

One of those programs is Circles Green Bay. It's an 18-month program that offers support, mentorship and friendship between volunteers and people living in poverty.

It's proven successful in getting people back on their feet.

The Big View event is free, but you are asked to register. CLICK HERE to register.