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State group introduces initiative to help end homelessness

Eau Claire (WQOW) — Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch was in Eau Claire Tuesday with an action plan to help end, or at least prevent, homelessness across the state.

Kleefisch spoke to a full room at Western Dairyland about the plan from the Wisconsin Interagency Council on Homelessness, to create more collaboration between state agencies to better assist homeless people.

It’s called “A Hand and A Home: Foundations for Success”. It would provide more funding for homeless prevention and diversion programs.

Kleefisch told News 18 getting the $3.75 million in extra spending passed with the new state budget is key to making homelessness brief, rare and one time.

“We’ve done workforce development reform, we’ve done education reform, we’ve done welfare reform, but yet still there are people who have not found a path to their American dream and have experienced homelessness, that’s not acceptable,” Kleefisch said.

Western Dairyland’s Housing Services Coordinator, Jeanne Semb, told News 18 right now there are more than 130 individuals and about 40 families waiting for housing in Eau Claire. She said this initiative could help them expand their services and bring new ones to the area.

“There currently isn’t a prevention program in Eau Claire or a diversion program,” Semb said. “So, if people are coming to us and they’re going to be homeless, there’s nothing that we can do to help them from becoming that way. There’s no funding currently to keep them housed.”

The next step for the “A Hand and A Home” initiative will be fore the state legislature to pass the spending for the next biennial budget, starting in 2019, including the nearly $4 million for the initiative.

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Samantha Wensel

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