Gov. Tony Evers announced a $2.7 million investment to support Wisconsin domestic violence programs and homeless shelter services last Tuesday.
The money will be divided among three programs. Milwaukee-based domestic violence intervention non-profit Sojourner Family Peace Center will receive $1 million, while $1.2 million will go to the state’s Safe Shelter and Homelessness Grant program and $500,000 is allocated for Wisconsin homeless case management services.
Evers’ announcement is part of a continuous effort to support ongoing family and low-income housing challenges across the state. Over 4,000 people experience homelessness on any given day in Wisconsin, according to a 2020 report from the Wisconsin Department of Housing and Homeless Development.
“We know the past few years have been tough on folks and families across the state, both financially and emotionally, and that many are at risk for homelessness or facing unstable or unsafe housing situations,” Evers said in a press release.
The COVID pandemic exacerbated the need for household support after many cities were forced to find new housing solutions, according to the Cap Times.
However, the governor’s office said 42 emergency shelters were able to reopen and support over 20,000 individuals affecting homelessness in the past year thanks to previous state funding allocations. Evers’ recent grant announcement will continue that work.
“As a state, we have a responsibility and a moral obligation to step up and help those who need a hand — that’s what being a Wisconsinite is all about, and it’s the right thing to do,” Evers said.
Madison combats homelessness, domestic violence
Both the city of Madison and the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus faced homelessness and domestic violence troubles over the last few years.
As of January 2022, roughly 701 people were facing homelessness in Dane County, according to the Homeless Services Consortium of Dane County.
The city of Madison has plans to build a permanent men’s homeless shelter near Reindahl Park on the city’s east side beginning in early 2023, but continual support is needed to reduce homelessness in Madison.
Dane County also continues to face problems concerning domestic violence. According to a 2021 report from End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin, six people in the county lost their lives as a result of domestic violence.
Just one day after Evers announced his bill, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced he would dedicate $1 million in the county’s 2023 budget to support domestic violence through the county’s Domestic Abuse Intervention Service (DAIS).
“It is critical that DAIS has the around the clock resources it needs, so when the window of opportunity presents to get people removed from danger, professional help is available,” Parisi said.
Low-income UW-Madison students have also struggled to find reliable housing as campus living costs climbed in recent years, leaving some students with no other option but to live out of their cars.
Full-time students take between 12 and 18 credits each semester, leaving little time for a paying job. Worse, students are battling rising grocery expenses and annual rent increases as high as 20% while making wages of $15 per hour at campus housing, dining and union jobs.
That wage barely covers the campus area’s $938.23 average per-bedroom monthly rent for students working between 15 and 20 hours per week. UW student Mallory Auth told The Daily Cardinal on Thursday that she doesn’t think the situation is fair.
“I think that college towns in general [and college apartment buildings have] an advantage of being able to charge pretty much whatever price they want, because they know that students need to find housing,” Auth said.