"Devastating:" Homeless, advocates to speak out on $200K in cuts to shelters

MILWAUKEE -- Community activists and homeless families are set to speak out Monday morning, December 11th ahead of a Milwaukee County Board committee meeting. They are calling on the board to prevent any cuts to shelter budgets in 2018.

An 8:30 a.m. press conference has been scheduled at the Milwaukee County Courthouse, organized by Street Angels Milwaukee, an outreach group that works with the city's homeless. Street Angels Milwaukee officials will be joined by a group of homeless individuals to speak out on cuts to homeless shelters.

According to a press release, they'll be holding the press conference "immediately before the Milwaukee County Board Finance Committee meets to finalize budget allocations for 2018."

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele last week in a press release called on the board to reverse $200,000 in cuts to homeless shelters which is part of the board's budget approved in November.

Abele's press release noted that "in just two short years, the Housing First initiative has placed more than 200 chronically homeless individuals in permanent housing and reduced the overall rate of homelessness in Milwaukee County by more than 40 percent, the most significant drop in the past decade and one of the largest decreases in the country. Without adequate funding, the initiative cannot maintain this level of progress."

According to Abele, the $200,000 in cuts to homeless shelters was part of $15 million in cuts approved by the board in November to transit, public safety, parks and social services. The $200,000 in cuts is included as part of a 5.3 percent budget cut to the Department of Health and Human Services which oversees the Housing Division, Abele's release states, on top of a 1 percent cut last year.

Officials with The Cathedral Center in Milwaukee, who "work to provide a safe environment for women and families while working to end homelessness one life at a time," have called on citizens to ask that Abele "fully support homeless shelters in Milwaukee County for the 2018 budget" ahead of Monday morning's committee meeting. That organization says the cuts will impact seven agencies that provide year-round shelter to homeless adults, children and families.

According to The Cathedral Center, "these cuts in county support, compounded with recent substantial reductions to shelter funding by the City of Milwaukee, will have a devastating impact on homeless services in our community. The shelter system is poised to lose a total of $488,798 in 2018, with further cuts expected in 2019."

Homeless advocates are worried these cuts could mean more homeless on the street, and they want to see the board move money from other large programs to make up for the shelters' budgets.