Getting better data on Wausau's homelessness problem
A new effort coinciding with the new outreach coordinator
One frustration of covering the homeless issue in Wausau has been the lack of real data.
For awhile, the point in time counts were all we had. Two times per year, volunteers would venture out into the night (one of those was during winter’s coldest times, so kudos to them) and try to count how many homeless people Wausau had.
Oddly, the group doing the counts would put out a press release that they would be going out, but never seemed to put out a release or posted publicly anywhere about what they found. You had to hunt them down and ask them. I always thought that very strange, considering the point was to raise awareness.
It was similar to the time I found out the jobs center in town was compiling data around the number of jobs that were accessible by someone who needed to ride a bus to get there. The numbers were stark — roughly a quarter were accessible by bus — but equally stunning to me was that the data wasn’t publicly shared anywhere. Again, I had to hunt it down (which I did, and fair enough, that’s my job).
So it’s with that in mind that I report news that the Wausau Police Department’s new outreach specialist working with the unhoused, Tracy Rieger, this month included numbers around how many homeless people there are in Wausau, and where those unhoused folks are staying. And it’s part of an effort to start collecting better data around homelessness in Wausau.