By Raymond Neupert/South Metro Observer

ROTHSCHILD, Wis. – Area leaders and legislators came together Wednesday morning in central Wisconsin to address solving some major social issues for the country’s rural population.

The fifth annual Hunger & Homelessness Summit was hosted by Wisconsin Congressman Sean Duffy, and attended by U.S. Sec. of Housing and Urban Development Dr. Ben Carson and Wisconsin First Lady Tonette Walker.

Duffy said that handling these issues can be far more difficult in rural areas simply due to how spread out things are, geographically.

“You can do far more with dollars in a concentrated area in urban America. And this is the concern,” Duffy said. “Whether it’s homelessness, or hunger, or drug abuse, it’s just as profound for our community as it is for urban America.”

Carson told the crowd gathered for the event that the government alone can’t end the problem of homelessness, but that more cooperation between state, federal and local groups needs to happen to help combat issues direct to a community.

One item Carson brought up in his talk was the fact that simply providing a home, without conditions, can be the anchor to bring people hope and bring them out of a cycle of loss.

“A man will not beat addiction from the gutter,” Carson said. “He will not get psychiatric help from under a bridge. He will not find a steady job, without a steady address.”

Providing a safe, permanent place to live can save money in the long run thanks to bringing a person or family in from the street, Carson said.

“It costs us $43,000 to $44,000 a year for a homeless person to sleep on the street. It costs less than half that to house them,” he said.

Carson chalks that cost savings up in reduced costs for emergency room visits, reduced policing, and reduced need for social services.

“Issues like poverty, homelessness and drugs only become tragedies when we accept them and don’t question their presence,” Carson said. “Our most precious resource are our people and we need to start treating them like that again.”

In comments to the media after the event, Duffy said more needs to be done to help fight drug addictions in rural areas and not just in urban communities.

“This isn’t like alcoholism anymore where you can go through outpatient programs,” Duffy said. “You do some of these drugs once or twice and you are addicted for life, and it takes a lot of money and inpatient treatment.”

Duffy said both government and community groups need to treat addition and disease for some drugs differently from how they handle alcohol or marijuana.

3 replies on “National and local leaders discuss hunger, homelessness”

  1. Not one local leader on the panel? Tom Rau? Jim Nick? No one? What a wasted opportunity.

  2. I’m a single mom, been in a abusive relationship for 8 years, it was physically at first but then mentally and emotionally and financially. I finally left october 2017. I went to stay with someone and it didn’t work out. I called the women’s shelter and they told me I was facing a homeless problem, they didn’t think i needed to be there. I have 2 kids as well. So i went to salvation army, they put me in a hotel room for 1 night and told me I would meet with a lady at Housing authority the next day I went and the lady wasn’t there. Not sure why I would be told to go there for more help and then the person that is supposed to help homeless people wasn’t there. It’s Friday. ..i have NO WHERE TO GO….This has been really hard on me and my kids. So do I go back to my abusive relationship?? I cry and cry all the time bc I’m just so tired of living the way I have been. I just want to be on my own…with my kids. But how am I suppose to do that when there is no help, what If I go back and he kills me? He started hitting me infront on my daughter who is 6…so she will grow up thinking it’s OK? And The cycle just keeps going?? I don’t want my daughter thinking rhis is right …Do I keep her living with me in the car? And that traumatized her some other way than being home in a warm bed?? The homeless issue in Wausau is NOT BEING handled CORRECTLY! I don’t have no other choice but to go back??

  3. If you are escaping a abusive relationship you should contact the Women’s Place as they are supposed to provide help in such situations. Not to be accusatory, but what have you done to help yourself? Did you go bs k to the Salavation Army and tell them the woman you were supposed to meet with did not show?

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