City of Racine receives $649,751 for homeless families affected by COVID-19

June 22, 2020
In The News

The City of Racine was awarded $649,751 through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES, Act to assist homeless families and individuals affected by COVID-19.

The City of Racine was one of three Wisconsin cities, along with Milwaukee and Madison, to receive the Emergency Solution Grants through the CARES Act, according to a news release from the office of U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil, R-Wis.

“As we have learned, homeless families and individuals have been uniquely impacted by the virus. During my term in Congress, I have visited HALO in Racine and the Shalom Center in Kenosha and spoken directly with leaders in our community about both the needs of the homeless and what we can do to ultimately solve this problem,” Steil said in the news release. “Our community of Racine struggles with homelessness and these funds will help our community prevent, prepare for, and respond to the invisible virus. I will continue fighting for southeast Wisconsin to protect our health and get our economy back on its feet.”

‘Truly robust’ changes

The funds are designated for homeless assistance and homelessness prevention activities to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19. The $2.96 billion allocated in the CARES act for such initiatives targets communities with high rates of homelessness, both sheltered and unsheltered, and those at the most risk for homelessness. It also takes into account economic and housing market conditions.

One of the most at-risk groups for transmission of coronavirus is homeless individuals.

“ ‘Safer at Home’ rings hollow for many individuals and families throughout our city and county, as they have no home,” Teresa Reinders, Director of Continuum of Care, stated in an email. “HALO, on behalf of the CoC, meets weekly with those at the federal and state levels to address the problems experienced by people without safe housing suitable for human habitation and whose issues are compounded by the exposure to a serious virus."

HALO Executive Director Gai Lorenzen said CARES funds are substantial enough to enact serious changes to address housing instability in Racine County.

“This amount of funding, coupled with funds received from foundations, corporations, individuals, and other sources, presents us with an opportunity to address all aspects of the ‘homeless system’ — shelter, rapid rehousing, and prevention,” Lorenzen said in a statement. “Historically, communities have found themselves responding to a ‘homeless crisis’ with shelter. The amount of funding that has been allocated allows us to implement a truly robust prevention and rapid re-housing strategy to avoid the crisis, or at least minimize the number of households who could potentially be part of the crisis.”

As of Sunday, details on how the funding would be allocated and spent had not been worked out.

“The Racine CoC looks forward to working with the community to oversee the best stewardship of these funds,” said Reinders. “As we come together as a concerned community to address homelessness and housing pragmatically and holistically, Racine can only become stronger.”