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FROM THE EDITOR: Bills to combat homelessness need more support

By Ben Rodgers

Gov. Tony Evers recently signed a piece of legislation to help combat homelessness, and it’s one we advocated for here in The Press Times.

On Nov. 19, Gov. Evers signed Assembly Bill 52, now 2019 Wisconsin Act 22, allowing homeless, unaccompanied 17-year-olds the right to be admitted to a homeless shelter or transitional living program.

“No kid should have to worry about where they are going to sleep at night, but the reality is that there are thousands of homeless and unaccompanied kids across our state,” said Evers. “This bill gives some of those kids the ability to access safe, emergency housing when they are experiencing a crisis. With the cold winter months already here, I hope this is one of many bipartisan initiatives we can take to make sure folks experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity are able to be safe and warm this winter.”

Rep. Staush Gruszynski (D-Green Bay), co-sponsored this bi-partisan bill after contacting advocates working directly with individuals experiencing homelessness in Greater Green Bay.

This was one of numerous stories included in a special issue of The Press Times where we collaborated with The Wisconsin State Journal and the Wisconsin Newspaper Association.

Our story on this bill was made available to every newspaper in the state.

We thank our lawmakers for this bill, because its passage adds an arrow in the quiver to combat homelessness as temperatures drop and snow starts to fly.

This bill shows newspapers continue to make a difference in the communities they serve.

However, when push came to shove and the bills with funds tied to them were ready to be voted on, the divisive stalemate of partisan politics reared its ugly head once again, while people across Wisconsin continue to sleep on the streets.

The State Senate should take responsibility for Assembly Bills 119-125, and $7.5 million in funding, which just needed to clear the Senate to make it to Evers’ desk before our elected state lawmakers adjourned until spring.

When comparing Wisconsin ($3.3 million in direct spending in 2016) to Minnesota ($44.3 million) and Illlionis ($49.5 million), it’s obvious Wisconsin could be doing more.

If our elected officials in the State Senate don’t care about those going through the most difficult stretch of their lives, maybe it’s time we elect people who do.

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