AP NEWS

Wisconsin Senate approves 1 of 8 homelessness bills

January 21, 2020 GMT

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The state Senate passed one of eight bills Tuesday from a bipartisan package designed to fight homelessness in Wisconsin.

The Assembly approved all eight bills, which would spend a combined $3.7 million a year, in June. Advocates, including Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, had urged the Senate to give the package final approval before winter so that services could be bolstered before cold temperatures and snow set in. But Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has said his caucus doesn’t support the whole package.

The bill the Senate approved would increase funding for a grant program that provides funding for homeless shelters by $500,000 in each of the next two years. The program received about $1.1 million in state funding in each of the past two years. The Senate approved it unanimously. It goes next to Evers.

The proposals would enact recommendations from a state panel that examined homelessness in Wisconsin, a first-of-its kind group in the state. In addition to the grants for shelters, the money would also be targeted at efforts to prevent homelessness and get people into more permanent housing.

The homelessness measures have broad support from advocates for the homeless and others who have been pressuring the Legislature to act. Groups in support include the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Catholic Conference and Wisconsin Public Health Association.