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Milwaukee alderman: 'Team effort' helped woman experiencing homelessness

Posted at 10:18 PM, Feb 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-26 23:18:10-05

MILWAUKEE — For more than a year, Alderman Russell Stamper II said a woman lived outside on a patch of land near the corner of 47th Street and Lisbon Avenue.

Now the woman no longer lives there, and Stamper says community teamwork helped lead the woman to get the help she needs.

"She had a whole display of clothes and boxes and all kind of belongings, and she was just there all day, every day," Stamper said.

He said he got hundreds of calls, emails and texts from neighbors and drivers expressing their concern.

Street Angels, Milwaukee County homeless prevention teams, along with a Milwaukee Police sergeant and detective were among a long list of people who visited the woman on a regular and sometimes daily basis.

In a media release on Friday, Stamper also thanked the Milwaukee Continuum of Care, the Hmong Community, and the city Community Block Grant Administration Director Steve Mahan and his office.

"We all tried our best," Stamper said. "She was comfortable out there, and she would not accept services."

Finally, during the dangerous cold earlier this month, he says teams were able to convince the woman to leave her post and get help.

"It was just a constant, consistent effort to offer her services, check on her, and slowly but surely she started opening up, she started talking more," Stamper said.

A spokesperson for Milwaukee County said the latest count shows about 30 people are experiencing homelessness and living outside. She said that number is likely lower than last year's count because of more outreach coverage.

West Allis Deputy Fire Chief Armando Suarez Del Real works with outreach groups such as Street Angels to make connections with those who are experiencing homelessness, and he says a lot of work goes into trying to build trust.

"The population that is experiencing homelessness are a very vulnerable population that is most of the times pretty guarded and they're worried about being taken advantage of," Suarez Del Real said. "I'm not saying all of them do, but there is a high prevalence of mental health issues that are secondary to a lot of issues that are keeping them outside."

"What we found is going on to their level and meeting them where they are and just offering to be present," he added.

"The message is, no matter what I know that this community will come together in the time of need," Stamper said. "Second message is we have to get people mental health services and the help that they need."

If you are concerned about someone who may be experiencing homelessness, call 211.

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