Wisconsin Senate approves funding for homelessness programs more than 6 months after it passed Assembly

MADISON, Wis. — The Wisconsin State Senate approved funding for programs to combat homelessness on Tuesday.

The bill puts an additional $500,000 each year into grants for homeless shelters, which the shelters can apply for and use to supplement operating costs.

During the floor debate, senators talked about the necessity of approving the funding as well as the bill’s limitations.

“It’s a very complex problem,” said Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills. “It’s a matter of mental health, and we need to address that issue. It’s a matter of relationships. That has been said. It’s a matter of job skills and education.”

Sen. LaTonya Johnson, D-Milwaukee, said the funding is crucial given the current temperatures and that three people experiencing homelessness died in November, including a war veteran in Janesville.

“We’re not just talking about luxuries of having a roof over our head or some place to go,” Johnson said. “We’re talking about life and death.”

The funding cleared the Assembly in June, and after months of inaction, Gov. Tony Evers ordered a special meeting of the Joint Finance Committee to release the funding, to which they said no.