MILWAUKEE -- Travelers using General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee can take the spare change out of their pockets and put it to work fighting homelessness, thanks to four new donation boxes, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele announced Tuesday, July 10.
According to a news release, the new boxes, located outside and past the security checkpoints at Concourses C and D, are in place to collect donations in support of Milwaukee County's "Housing First" endowment. Passengers who are emptying change from their pockets as they head through security can opt to donate it instead.
"These boxes reflect a creative, collaborative approach that is necessary for us to tackle some of the county's biggest issues. We've been able to dramatically cut the number of homeless residents in our County in the last three years, but we still have more work to do. I'm hopeful that this will make a real difference in our community. Some spare change from passengers can add up to making big changes for people in our county," said Abele in the release.
The project is a partnership involving the Milwaukee County Housing Division, the airport and the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors, who in May approved changes to an ordinance that had prohibited solicitation at the airport in order to permit installation of the boxes.
According to the release, Housing Division Administrator James Mathy came across the idea for the donation boxes while researching avenues to raise private funds in order to preserve the momentum of the county’s homelessness initiatives. Denver International Airport placed donation containers at security lines, with all proceeds supporting the city’s program to address homelessness, Denver’s Road Home. That initiative raised $282,722 in three years.
While Milwaukee County is on track toward its goal of ending chronic homelessness by this fall, those who don’t fit the definition of chronically homeless also require assistance. A majority of the new funding to combat homelessness has come from Milwaukee County in the past few years, but additional resources are needed.
The Housing First endowment, which is held by the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, is designed to augment county funding with private donations and amplify the fight against homelessness, according to the release.