Today the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released its annual report on homelessness, and it included mostly positive results. Homeless rates are declining across the country, and Wisconsin is consistent with that trend with an overall decrease of 4.4 percent. While more than 6,000 people were homeless on any given night across the state, according to the report, the vast majority found a residential shelter. Chronic homelessness in Wisconsin declined 50.3 percent from January 2010 to January 2015, and the number of homeless veterans declined 12 percent in the same time period.
On the January evening the volunteers for the department measured Milwaukee County’s homeless population, they found 1,521 total homeless people, 104 of whom were considered chronically homeless. The latter has likely declined even more thanks in part to County Executive Chris Abele’s initiative to end chronic homelessness, which was launched in July. Last month, Fox 6 reported that 45 chronically homeless Milwaukeeans had found housing through the campaign.
“We put a stake in the ground and said ‘we don’t want to just reduce this problem by 20%. We just don’t want to make a dent. We just don’t want to have a summit or put out a press release. We want to get to functional zero,” Abele told Fox 6 at the time.
Across the country, homelessness has declined by 12.7 percent since 2007, when nearly 650,000 people were without a place to stay.