Understanding a Complex Issue
Friday, October 16, 2015
Keynote speaker, Joe Mauthe, executive director of the Housing Partnership of the Fox Cities,
provided an overview of Project RUSH during the 2015 Community Campaign Kickoff.
Contributor: Nanci Micke, Vice President of Marketing and Communications at United Way Fox Cities
This has been a very busy week at United Way Fox Cities. Our annual kickoff for the community campaign was held on Wednesday. (View photos of the 2015 Community Campaign Kickoff.) On Tuesday morning we had a gathering of business leaders who joined us at Kimberly-Clark. At both of those gatherings we heard from Joe Mauthe, Executive Director of the Housing Partnership of the Fox Cities. Joe takes the very complex subject of homelessness and makes it much more understandable. Who are the homeless in our community? What are the reasons that have led to being without a place to live? How many people make up the “hidden homeless” population?
In the past year, the number of children who are homeless in the Neenah and Menasha school districts has doubled. Homeless Connections and the Warming Shelter continue to be at capacity with waiting lists. And, if you ask our United Way 2-1-1 call specialists, they will tell you that not a day goes by without them receiving calls for help with housing.
Homelessness is a real issue in the Fox Cities and there is good work being done to address this need. The Fox Cities Housing Coalition has conducted a survey called Project RUSH (Research to Understand and Solve Homelessness). This fundamental research project is aimed at better understanding the current need and availability of affordable housing in the Fox Cities and learning more about the “hidden homeless” in our community. By understanding this ‘front end’ to homelessness, our community will be able to take more proactive measures that put a greater focus on preventing poverty and homelessness.
Now that this data is becoming available, the Fox Cities Housing Coalition is beginning a strategic planning process to ensure that we can effectively and efficiently address the issue. United Way Fox Cities was instrumental in initiating this project, and will continue to play an active role in working toward solutions.