Winter 2020-2021
Public Policy Institute Insights
Friends –

As we close out 2020, we’re reflecting on all that we learned this year. Top of mind is the importance of prevention activities and a strong public health system in good times as well as during health emergencies. This year really highlighted how vital it is to strike at issues as they appear on the horizon before they turn into crises. In addition, we are reflecting on the importance of our community’s well-being, racial equity, and inclusiveness. As Milwaukee, Wauwatosa, Kenosha, and dozens of cities around the country experienced social unrest in response to racist policies and policing, we reassessed our own beliefs and practices and are committed to promoting the health and well-being of all members of our diverse community, but especially individuals from communities that have experienced historic and lasting racism, disinvestment, and discrimination. In 2021, please join us in being the change we want to see. On behalf of the Public Policy Institute, thank you for your continued support and Happy Holidays.

Kari Southern
Deputy Director
Community Advocates Public Policy Institute

Highlights of Our Year
We filled 2020 with more events and activities than we can catalog in this newsletter as we pivoted to meet the needs of the year. Here are a few highlights:

Releasing Home Is Where Our Health Is: Policies to Improve the Health of Renters in Milwaukee and Beyond in February as part of our Healthy Housing Initiative. The report is a comprehensive look into how local, state, federal, and nonprofit decision-makers can improve housing and public health. Our Policy Team and Housing Advocates partnered with the Oakland-based Human Impact Partners to assemble tenant focus groups and diverse community advisors, take a deep dive into housing policies and solutions, and distill years of research into a road map to improve access to high quality, affordable, and healthy rental housing.

Home Is Where Our Health Is generated a great deal of media attention and informed the reporting on Milwaukee’s housing crisis through the year, both before and during the pandemic. It also helped to set the stage for Community Advocates’ role as a founding member of the Milwaukee Rental Housing Resource Center, to launch formally in January 2021. We’d like to thank the Wisconsin Partnership Program at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and the Joseph and Vera Zilber Charitable Foundation for providing financial support for the Healthy Housing Initiative’s work.

Partnering with public health, safety net and rental housing stakeholders to advocate for enhanced financial support for Wisconsinites hard-hit by the pandemic to protect health and shore up the economy. We urged decision-makers to make stimulus funding easily available to the most vulnerable, reform the Earned Income Tax Credit, pair rent assistance with an eviction moratorium, loosen restrictions on obtaining unemployment insurance, and improve health care access for individuals returning to the community after incarceration, among other policy changes.

Expanding our reach by going virtual. PPI sponsored online sessions by local historian Reggie Jackson on "Canaries in the Coal Mine: Attending to Racial Health Disparities in the Age of COVID-19," Jermaine (Tall Cop) Galloway on drug trends, Erin Winkler on implicit bias, and a town hall with Sen. Tammy Baldwin and Rep. Gwen Moore on The Jobs for Economic Recovery Act, which would use subsidized Transitional Jobs as a way to get workers back on the job and aid struggling employers.

In addition, the Milwaukee County Substance Abuse Prevention coalition (MCSAP) pioneered interactive mental health and wellness virtual resource fairs on Zoom and Facebook. Our Prevention Team debuted online trainings on mental health, substance abuse, and prevention skills, and also sponsored two virtual youth summits to engage youth and community members.

Setting the stage for an even better 2021. We have added new staff members who are providing a fresh perspective on our work, and we will be rolling out new initiatives throughout 2021. Expect to see innovative activities and new ways to engage in the New Year.
Community Advocates
2020 Board of Directors
President: Jodi Wire | We Energies
Vice President: Bryan House | Foley & Lardner, LLP
Treasurer: Sandra Samse | Johnson Keland Management
Secretary: Sharon Jordan | Direct Supply

Board Members
Sheree Dallas Branch | The Salvation Army
Anne DeLeo | Community Volunteer
Natasha Dotson | Milwaukee Fatherhood Initiative
Valerie Gabriel | Community Volunteer
Erin Henry | Northwestern Mutual
Betsy Hoylman | Northwestern Mutual
Gary Ingram | Igary Events
Pamela Klein | Fresh Coast Partners, LLC
Jim Liedtke | Community Volunteer
Ashley Pavlic | Medical College of Wisconsin
Noceeba Southern | United States Social Security Administration
Alexandra Urrutia-Comas | Advocate Aurora Health
Kate Venne | Brady Corporation
Lisa Kaiser | Community Advocates Public Policy Institute | 414-270-2999  | |