Addressing poverty and homelessness in Eau Claire

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. -- On a typical night at the Sojourner House in Eau Claire, all 38 beds and some recliners are full.

Dan Robinson, the Sojourner House Director, says some people are looking for work, others have kids to support and about 20% he estimates are chronically homeless.

But on Tuesday he was happy to hear Eau Claire City Council President Kerry Kincaid's comments on Monday, saying she would like to address poverty in Eau Claire during her next term. She laid out some of her ideas to WEAU.

"Get a good handle on people that live in poverty, what they need and help them get out of it," she said.

Robinson says the Sojourner House takes part in regular meetings with other organizations around Eau Claire helping those in poverty and facing homelessness. Kincaid applauds those efforts but says more can be done.

"They are absolutely doing a fantastic job, I think there's more we could do in one room together and lay out an action plan that states a problem and identifies it with an action plan," Kincaid said.

Kelly Christianson, Executive Director of the Eau Claire Interfaith Hospitality Network, says she and her colleagues are looking at the roots of the issue.

"The economic issues, the mental health issues, those kinds of things that are leading up to people becoming homeless," Christianson said.

Robinson says the community is going to need more resources and an understanding that homeless people have different needs. But he believes conversations together about poverty and homelessness are a great start.

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