Homeless encampment has become "unsafe," Milwaukee Downtown says

NOW: Homeless encampment has become “unsafe,“ Milwaukee Downtown says

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee Downtown CEO Beth Weirick noticed the homeless population under the Marquette interchange in Milwaukee was increasing about a month ago.

“We were very concerned about this location and how unsafe and how unsanitary it is,” Weirick said of the location near 6th and Clybourn.

Milwaukee Downtown partnered with Milwaukee County to conduct a census of the area. The census found that about 50 people are living in the encampment. It also found alcohol and drug use in the area, as well as maggots, rats, and human feces. There was also a stabbing in early July.

“It is an unbelievable, unsustainable and unhealthy location for anyone to live,” Weirick said.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation owns the land, and says they contracted with a company to clean it later this week.

Weirick and WisDOT agreed that part of the problem is people giving food and essentials directly to homeless under the overpass, instead of through housing organizations.

Emily Kenney with the non-profit group IMPACT, says finding housing solutions is the best way to help the homeless.

“The more that we can focus on funding and helping people get into apartments, that’s really going to be what solves this,” Kenney said.

Kenney added that donating food isn’t bad, but local groups provide temporary apartments for the homeless, and what they really need are donations to help people move in.

“They need help with their security deposit, or they're applying for apartments and they have application fees. Some of those startup move-in costs are quite expensive.”

Weirick says the situation can’t be solved soon enough, because it isn’t safe for people living there or passing by.

“They deserve to have a better quality of life than that."

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