Gov. Scott Walker signed into law Monday an initiative put forth by Assembly Republicans to combat homelessness in the state.

The signing of Assembly Bill 234, introduced by Rep. Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna, establishes the Interagency Council on Homelessness.

According to the new law, this council will work with agencies across the state government to combat homelessness.

In a statement, Steineke said the new council is a “turning point” in the way Wisconsin addresses homelessness.

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“For the first time in our state’s history, we will have an institution, inscribed in law, whose sole purpose is to coordinate our approach to ending this devastating form of poverty,” Steineke said in the statement. “I cannot even imagine the innovations and collaborations that will be possible by bringing agency secretaries together on a regular basis to develop a comprehensive, strategic plan to end homelessness.”

The council will be chaired by Republican Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and its members will primarily include the secretaries of the departments of Administration, Health Services, Children and Families, Workforce Development, Veterans Affairs and Corrections.

Additional council members include the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Representatives from the four Continuum of Care organizations in Wisconsin will also sit on the committee. According to information from the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, a Continuum of Care organization is a regional or local planning body that coordinates housing and services funding for homeless families and individuals.

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The four Continuum of Care organizations in Wisconsin which will sit on the new committee are the Wisconsin Balance of State Continuum of Care, the Milwaukee Continuum of Care, the Continuum of Care for the City and County of Racine and the Homeless Services Consortium of Dane County.

According to the bill’s text, the council’s responsibilities will include reviewing state policies toward eradicating homelessness and formulating new policies toward that end, should the council consider such actions necessary.

Additionally, the council will appoint a director to coordinate the activities of the council and will designate an individual from relevant state agencies to implement its policies in coordination with those agencies.