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Homeless outreach effort in Wausau seeing progress


Wausau's Public Health and Safety Committee heard an update on the progress Community Outreach Specialist Tracy Rieger is making in reaching out to the city's homeless population.

Deputy Police Chief Matt Barnes says the returns on her investment have been immediate, especially when it comes to getting people into safe housing.

“I think the number that Tracy’s worked with that she’s gotten housed from the unhoused position, I don’t if it’s seven or if it’s eight as of today, so that’s something we’re very proud of”, said Barnes.

Barnes says she is also following up with those people to make sure they can stay in that housing.

“And that requires case management.  The amount of effort it takes to continue to have daily contact to get people to do the things necessary to stay housed, to make the choices necessary to have a landlord satisfied that you can stay.”

Alder Lisa Rasmussen says the city is also budgeting for a cash fund for Rieger for things like rental deposits or licensing fees to help the homeless population.

“Certain things that are a barrier to someone who has nothing but often is maybe just the spark that is necessary to really start them on that better path”, said Rasmussen.

Barnes says one thing Rieger is in need of is a petty cash fund to help people with things like apartment deposits or licensing fees.

Barnes says in some cases it can also be used to help her make a connection with someone through a fast-food meal.

Rieger was not available for Monday's meeting.  She will be a fixture at future meetings to provide updates to the committee.

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