They say if you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together. My vision is for Milwaukee County to go far on its journey to achieve race and health equity, but that vision can’t be realized without dedicated partners by our side. In our first three years in office, our administration has forged relationships across the ideological spectrum to ensure we can go far together.
Milwaukee County’s partnerships are what make us strong in the face of the challenges ahead of us, like the scourge of the opioid epidemic and the behavioral health issues present in our neighborhoods. Thanks to the help of our many partners in the health care industry, we are taking proactive and necessary steps to combat the ongoing opioid and mental health crises affecting county residents.
Late last year, the Mental Health Emergency Center (MEHC) opened which brings a community-based model of care to bring services to the doorstop of the community. More than 70 percent of residents served by the psychiatric crisis services live in close proximity to the new facility.
In addition, the Medication Assisted Treatment Program at the Community Reintegration Center continues to address drug dependence for individuals in our care and reduce recidivism by giving residents the tools they need to not re-offend.
And, this month Milwaukee County is installing opioid harm reduction vending machines at the Marcia P. Coggs center containing Narcan, medication bags, and fentanyl test strips to reduce accidental overdoses. It is the first of multiple vending machines that will be installed in neighborhoods across the county with the highest incidents of fatal overdoses.
In 2023, affordable housing across all zip codes remains a top priority for my administration. When residents don’t have access to safe, stable, affordable housing it increases the likelihood of both mental and physical health problems. This year, we’ve taken action to help create first-time local homeowners by allocating $2.5 million in federal funding to ACTs Housing home acquisition fund.
By investing in affordable housing, we can increase health outcomes and create a safer healthier Milwaukee County. This year, we have executed contracts with five local developers to build affordable housing in Wauwatosa, West Allis, South Milwaukee, Brown Deer, and Milwaukee’s King Park neighborhood. These steps are pieces of the puzzle that help to create a more equitable real estate market across the county.
As a County, we are also investing in building upon transportation infrastructure to expand mobility and accessibility. Later this year, the East-West Bus Transit System will launch and provide faster commutes for residents and a more connected County. In addition, we are working to combat reckless driving thanks to federal dollars received through the Transportation Alternatives Program. The funds will help pay for the creation of countywide plan to make our roadways safe for everyone.
When people have equitable access to resources, and opportunities they thrive and lead long, healthy lives. I was sworn into office nearly three years ago and articulated a vision to make Milwaukee County the healthiest county in Wisconsin by achieving racial equity. With our current partners, allies, and others who share our vision of race and health equity we have made progress, but the work is not over yet. I urge you, no matter your ideology or industry, to join us in our vision of health and race equity. My door is always open, and there is always a seat at the table for you to help us move Milwaukee County forward.