Milwaukee County Makes Substantial Progress on Homelessness

In 2022, the county’s point-in-time count of unhoused people reflected just 18 individuals, the lowest in the country.

2 minute read

February 3, 2023, 6:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Aerial view of downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin at sunset

Sean Pavone / Milwaukee, Wisconsin

“In 2022, Milwaukee County had the lowest per-capita count of unsheltered homeless people in the nation, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.” But the county has seen an increase in unhoused residents, putting that record in jeopardy, writes Evan Casey in Urban Milwaukee.

Eric Collins-Dyke, the assistant administrator of supportive housing and homeless services for Milwaukee County, says he has seen a growth in the number of unhoused people, although the results of the federally mandated point-in-time homeless count conducted in January won’t be officially published for weeks or months. Collins-Dyke blames “a rise in housing insecurity, an increase in evictions and ongoing problems that many people are facing when it comes to mental health and substance abuse.”

Casey points out that the point-in-time count could omit people who sought temporary shelter during the winter, making the actual number of unhoused people in the county likely higher. To account for this, the county will conduct quarterly counts starting this year. Meanwhile, federal assistance funding provided during the pandemic is drying up, while evictions are surging and the state faces a shortage of over 123,000 rental units, putting more people at risk of losing their housing.

Among other efforts to prevent people from falling into homelessness, the county launched a Right to Counsel program that provides legal resources and representation to people facing eviction and a housing assistance program for low-income residents.

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