Safe & Stable Homes: Ending Family Homelessness

Safe & Stable Homes: Ending Family Homelessness

Everything starts with the home. Whether it’s an address so you can be employed, or being able to stay in the same school all year, or having a place to cook a healthy meal together—we know that the root of all good things is a sense of place and a sense of home.

Many families in our community are one missed rent or mortgage payment away from homelessness. Housing plays a critical role for families and communities and impacts outcomes in each of United Way’s three investment areas.

We know:

  • Health problems can be exacerbated by lack of stable housing. High medical bills can leave a person unable to pay for housing.
  • Frequent school moves, high rates of absenteeism, and low achievement for kids in school can all be attributed to frequent changes in a family’s living situation.
  • Opportunities for employment and financial stability are at risk without permanent housing.

At first glance, ending homelessness sounded impossible; It’s too big of a societal problem. The root causes are complex. There’s not enough time, money, or people power to solve the issue. What we know now is that there are already a number of service models operating today that provide effective solutions to homelessness.

The Facts

How prevalent is family homelessness in our four-county region? 
In our four county community over 5,700 people experiencing homelessness accessed emergency shelter in 2017.

Why are families struggling with homelessness? One of the reasons is the affordable housing wage gap.

Affordable Housing Wage Gap

To be able to afford a two bedroom home in Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington, or Waukesha County, a person would need to earn $17.52 per hour, yet the average renter wages for those counties are $16.44, $11.51, $12.50, and $14.33, respectively.

Homelessness in our four-county community


An end to family homelessness means that every community will have a comprehensive response in place that ensures homelessness is prevented whenever possible, or if it can’t be prevented, it is a rare, brief, and one-time experience. 

Why Family Homelessness?

We know our donors and community care deeply about children and families. We know that with the support of others in the community, and everyone working together, we can move the needle and support programs that already exist and offer solutions. We know that when we end family homelessness by 2025, the funds that are currently being targeted for emergency services can now be targeted at prevention and toward other homeless populations.  

The Plan

To achieve this goal, United Way has convened an advisory board of experts to examine all angles of homelessness, including root causes, people affected, and proven solutions.

The focus in 2019 is on fundraising for Safe & Stable Homes: Ending Family Homelessness. We will continue our work in services like warming rooms and emergency shelters but we will expand the focus to include homelessness prevention for families. 

With your financial support we can invest in prevention strategies including:

  • Legal assistance to families in eviction court.
  • Conflict mediation between tenants and landlords.
  • Short-term emergency rent and utility assistance.
  • Housing case managers embedded in schools.

Current United Way Strategies Centered Around Homelessness

United Way has invested in emergency shelter and supported other homelessness-related programs and initiatives for many years. 

We are the lead organization for Milwaukee and Waukesha Project Homeless Connect, an annual, event that brings resources and services to those experiencing homelessness. 
United Way is also active with the following:


Safe & Stable Homes Funding Grants

Applications are no longer being accepted for the 2020-2021 funding cycle. Please check back in spring of 2021 for the next round of funding. ​

Special Thanks

to our Safe & Stable Homes Sponsors


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Waukesha Overflow Shelter

Shelter beds fill up quickly, especially during cold weather. Learn about the overflow shelter and how you can help women and families.

Preventing Homelessness Advisory Committee

Rafael Acevedo, City of Milwaukee

Tim Baack, Pathfinders

Angelina Bailey, Community Member

 Mike Bare, Community Advocates Public Policy Institute

Eric Collins-Dyke, Milwaukee County Housing Division

Andi Elliot, Community Advocates

Nancy Esteves, Institute for Community Alliances

Kerry Frieberg, Froedtert Health

Jeanne Geraci, Benedict Center

Mark Huber, Advocate Aurora

Emily Kenney, IMPACT

 Maudwella Kirkendoll, Community Advocates

Krystina Kohler, United Way

 Amy Koltz, Metro Milwaukee Mediation Services, Inc.

Judy Loth, Adullum Family Warming Center

Kristi Luzar, Urban Economic Development Association

Steve Mahan, City of Milwaukee

Angela Mancuso, The Women’s Center

Jim Mathy, Milwaukee County Housing Division

Joy Neilson, State of Wisconsin

Joe Peterangelo, Wisconsin Policy Forum

Joe Pieper, City of Waukesha

Johneisha Prescott, Housing Action Coalition of Waukesha County

Raphael Ramos, Legal Action of Wisconsin

 Antwayne Robertson, Waukesha County Health & Human Services

Wendy Weckler, Hope House

Jan Wilberg, Wilberg Community Planning

Joanne Lipo Zovic, Metro Milwaukee Mediation Services, Inc.

Staff Lead:
Krystina Kohler
Portfolio Manager – Financial Stability

© 2020 United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County is a 501(C)(3) Nonprofit registered in the US under EIN: 39-0806190.