New numbers show Milwaukee County has the lowest per capita homeless population
MILWAUKEE (CBS58) -- It's a big step in the right director for Milwaukee County. The Department of Housing and Urban Development reports the county has the nation's lowest per capita homeless population. It's all thanks to a program that gets people indoors.
Benny Brelove talked to CBS 58's Winnie Dortch. He's been homeless most of his life.
"I'm sleeping in buildings, I'm sleeping on porches, dog chasing me," Brelove.
Three months ago, he moved into his first apartment with the help of Milwaukee County's Housing First Initiative. It was created in 2015.
"Housing First is about getting people out of homelessness as soon as possible," said Luke Rosynek, quality assurance and strategy coordinator for the county.
The goal is to focus on a person's living situation first before tackling drug addictions or any other barriers.
"People were often asked to prove themselves, show up, take a drug test be sober for 90 days...before even given a chance to get an apartment for yourself," Rosynek said.
According to The Department of Housing and Urban Development, new numbers show Milwaukee County has the lowest per capita homeless population in the nation, compared to similar market size cities.
"Since starting, the street homeless population in Milwaukee County has been reduced by 92%," said Rosynek.
The county itself benefits from reducing homelessness. The less people on the street, the less services are used.
"Chronically homeless population are often labeled as 'over utilizers of emergency health services,' they're going to emergency rooms or there might be a crisis on the street... the police show up," Rosynek said. "These are all incredibly expensive and valuable services in our community."
As for Brelove, he's a representation of what means to go from nothing to more than enough.
"I don't have to worry about people stabbing me, robbing me. I feel more comfortable here just getting out of the street period," Brelove said.
"When you start working with someone whose homeless, you learn that they are your neighbor, that they're vulnerable and they need you," Rosynek said.
More data can be found by clicking this link.
If you know someone experiencing homelessness and you want to help, call 2-1-1.