Initiative focuses on cleaning up two homeless camps littered with trash

NOW: Initiative focuses on cleaning up two homeless camps littered with trash

In Milwaukee, two homeless camps littered with trash are getting cleaned up. The initiative focuses on two bridges downtown. One is at 6th and Clybourn and the other is at 25th and Greves. 

The Milwaukee Police Department says the areas are dirty and they've become a health hazard. CBS 58 has learned that the people who live there will have a place to go before they even leave.

Bottles, syringes, trails of trash are found under two bridges that double as homes for some in Milwaukee.

Soon, the Public Works Department will clear the area out. Eric Collins with the Milwaukee County Housing Division says the people will have a new permanent place to live.

"In the next 30 days we should have 75 slots available and folks who are out on the street are moved to the top of the list," said Collins.

He says they've been working with Milwaukee Police, The DA's Office, and others for months. They're using the Housing First Model where the homeless get a home then access to treatment and programs. Not the other way around.

"There's no camp removals. We are all working hard to assist these folks living where they are at, advocating for their rights, dignity every single day including the police department."

County Executive Chris Abele says The Housing First Model is the reason homelessness in Milwaukee has gone down drastically from almost 2,000 to under 1,000.

"We've seen in the last two years the biggest single drop in Milwaukee County that we've probably ever seen and we are still going. This approach is working," County Executive Abele said. 

The Milwaukee Police Department says while people could get a citation if they come back here, the hope is that they won't want to.

"I want to be able to say we have eliminated chronic homelessness faster than any metro in America," County Executive Abele said.

The Housing Division says they've worked it out where no one will get a citation for being there while in transition to their new home.

There's no timeline yet on when the cleanup will take place.

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