Students from the University of Wisconsin School of Business held a homelessness simulation Monday, providing students a firsthand look at what it means to be homeless in Madison.
The event showed students what homelessness is like by taking them through potential situations many homeless people have faced, according to Darío Placencio Hidalgo, a student in the class responsible for the event and member of Small Steps.
Small Steps, made up of students in the Management and Human Resources 365 Leadership and Development class, aims to create awareness and educate students on appropriate ways to interact in situations involving the homeless.
“We feel that this reality needs to be approached, and we feel passionate about improving the quality of peoples’ lives in homeless situations,” Placencio Hidalgo said.
A total of 6,104 people are homeless in Wisconsin, with an influx in the spring and summer in Wisconsin, UW Police Department community officer Tricia Meinholz said
Additionally, police officers genuinely try to make a difference in the lives of homeless people and act as resources for the homeless population, and are not just out to enforce laws and arrest homeless people, Meinholz said.
“The resources that homeless people need include a place to store their valuables and other things, clean clothes, toiletries, a sturdy backpack, seasonally appropriate attire, food and a warm place, blankets and sleeping pads, things we can all provide,” Meinholz said.
Jessica Palmer, who holds a position on the board of directors at the YWCA, said their organization holds racial justice trainings, job trainings and free training in construction trades, as well as providing free transportation for people that need to get to work, housing and shelter.
A family can stay in temporary housing provided by the YWCA for up to 90 days. After 90 days, the group will assist families maintain housing by covering anywhere from 25 percent to 100 percent of the family’s rent, Palmer said.
A total of 3,370 individuals are served by Dane County’s shelter system, including in three shelters around the Capitol Square, according to Porchlight board member Beatrice McCoy.
The organization has built 48 units of housing and are hoping to build another 100 units, McCoy said.