'Let's work together:' City leaders try combat homelessness as Tent City eviction date looms

MILWAUKEE – Time is ticking for homeless people to clear out of Tent City as an end-of-the-month eviction date looms. City officials are working to ensure they don't have to return to the streets.

Tent City

On a wet and soggy day, folks living underneath I-794 and the Marquette Interchange are dealing with the elements.

"With the weather turning, we certainly want to get everybody indoors," said Jim Mathy, who works with the Milwaukee County Housing Division.

The makeshift homes need to be cleared by Oct. 31. This deadline is sparking talks of a bigger matter of permanent relocation.

"They are an issue we have to deal with as a community," said Mayor Tom Barrett.

Tent City

Tom Barrett

Mayor Barrett and the City of Milwaukee declared Oct. 10-17 as the inaugural Milwaukee Homelessness Awareness Week.

"Let's work together as hard as we can to see how we are going to address this issue," said Barrett.

The issue appears to be a collaborative effort. The Milwaukee Continuum of Care is a network of more than 100 organizations working to end homelessness in the city. It's been successful so far.

"We've seen about a 45% reduction in overall homelessness since 2015," said Mathy.

Tent City

Tent City

Mathy says more still needs to be done.

"We've increased our prevention effort to try to keep people from ever becoming homeless," said Mathy. "We've seen over 500 individuals through this front, and about 83% of them haven't become homeless, which is very key."

Meanwhile, the transition from here will require layers of attention.

"We are either expanding additional programs or finding an additional location or two that will be professionally staffed with social workers that can help with mental health needs and long-term housing plans," said Mathy.

Tent City

The mayor's long-range plan is to have 10,000 new or re-established housing units in the city in the next 10 years. During the week, there will be programs and projects related to homelessness awareness and fundraising. To learn more, click HERE.