State News

Walker signs pair of bills to combat homelessness

Gov. Scott Walker signed two bills Monday aimed at helping homeless individuals.

Image By: Katie Scheidt

Gov. Scott Walker signed two bills into law Monday aimed at helping Wisconsin’s homeless population.

The first law creates an “Interagency Council on Homelessness,” the first coordinated effort to tackle homelessness created by an act of the state Legislature. The group will report to the governor and the Legislature, and will be chaired by Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch.

The second law gives priority to the homeless on waitlists for the Housing Choice Voucher Program, the federal government’s housing assistance initiative for very low-income individuals and the elderly and disabled.

Both bills were part of a four-bill initiative by Republicans in the Legislature to combat homelessness. The first two initiatives passed as part of the 2017-’19 biennial budget.

The bill creating the council on homelessness passed the Legislature unanimously, while the bill to give homeless individuals waiting list priority passed on a near party-line vote, with most Democrats voting against it.

Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna, who sponsored the bill to create the council, heralded the four new laws, saying they have the support of those who advocate for the homeless and serve as “crucial first steps.”

“These bills are focused on giving both care providers and the homeless population essential tools to combat homelessness,” Steineke said in a statement. “We want every person in Wisconsin to have a place to call home.” 

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