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Syrian military moves in as the U.S. moves out; and Colorado looks at Public Option health plans. Plus, Indigenous Peoples Day.

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State Council on Homelessness Welcomes First Leader

A bill creating the Interagency Council on Homelessness passed the Wisconsin Legislature last session. (D.C.Atty/Flickr)
A bill creating the Interagency Council on Homelessness passed the Wisconsin Legislature last session. (D.C.Atty/Flickr)
April 2, 2018

MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin's new Interagency Council on Homelessness takes another step toward getting started today, when its first-ever director takes the reins.

Michael Luckey had been a policy advisor for Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke of Kaukauna, and helped guide a number of bills addressing homelessness through the Legislature. One of those bills, Assembly Bill 234, created the Interagency Council on Homelessness. It was backed by the Wisconsin Coalition Against Homelessness, where Executive Director Joseph Volk said the added attention to this issue is sorely needed.

"For the first time in probably 20 years, the issue of homelessness is being discussed in the State Legislature and in the Administration,” Volk said. “And not only is it being discussed, it's being discussed at really, the very highest levels of state government."

Volk's organization estimates about 27,000 Wisconsinites are homeless. Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch chairs the new council, which also includes representatives from eight state agencies and service providers.

The Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority and the Departments of Children and Families and Veterans Affairs will be part of the council. Volk said he's happy to see multiple agencies working together.

"Homeless people and families have problems which touch all of those departments - from the Department of Health, to the Department of Workforce Development, to Children and Families,” he said. “And so, there needs to be some interagency coordination amongst programs."

The new council will start by developing an agenda and goals. Volk said he hopes one of those goals is to figure out how to end homelessness.

"Most other states around the country have a plan to end homelessness in their state,” he said. “Wisconsin has no such plan."

The Interagency Council on Homelessness will meet quarterly.

Elizabeth Braun, Public News Service - WI