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Milwaukee County Board committee advances proposal to collect change for the homeless at airport

MILWAUKEE — A Milwaukee County Board committee on Monday, May 14 approved a proposal that would allow people to donate to the homeless at General Mitchell International Airport.

According to a news release from Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele’s office, donations would be collected near security checkpoints, and would “aid in Milwaukee County’s fight against homelessness.

The proposal was approved by the board’s Economic and Community Development Committee Monday via a unanimous vote.

“I am grateful that the committee gave its support to this creative solution that can make a real difference in fighting homelessness. We’ve been able to dramatically cut the number of homeless residents in the last three years, but we still have more work to do. A small change to an ordinance plus some pocket change from airport passengers can add up to making big changes in our community,” said Abele in the release.

According to the release, the proposal involves modifying ordinance language that prevents solicitation at the airport — allowing for the installation of collection boxes where travelers could drop loose change in support of Milwaukee County’s “Housing Division’s Housing First Initiative.” Passengers who are emptying change from their pockets as they head through security can opt to donate it instead.

The release says Housing Division Administrator James Mathy came across the idea for the donation boxes while researching avenues to raise private funds for the county’s homelessness initiatives.

Donation containers were placed at security lines at Denver International Airport, with all proceeds supporting the city’s program to address homelessness — an effort that raised $282,722 in three years, the release notes.

The full Milwaukee County Board will take up this proposal on May 24.