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Want to keep up with the Public Policy Institute? Check this page for events, commentary, and announcements.

While Community Advocates provides critical and responsive services, its Public Policy Institute (PPI) has been tracking and disseminating vital information on the city, state, and federal government response and process to navigating COVID-19 and implications on tenants and landlords.

Created to provide a safe and healthy discussion with youth about substance abuse facts, myths, and opinions prompted by the "My New Friends" public service announcement.

Community Advocates Public Policy Institute in partnership with Connected Health Solutions, ArtWorks for Milwaukee, and Milwaukee County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition (MCSAP) are releasing the video “My New Friends,” produced with young people in the city of Milwaukee to raise awareness of drug misuse.

“The new moratorium will help our clients avoid homelessness, but it’s important for renters to know that they must continue paying rent and that rent assistance is available,” Andi Elliott, CEO of Community Advocates, said. “Applying for that assistance is required to avoid being evicted for non-payment of rent, and help is only a click or a call away.”

A traumatic event such last week’s violence and civil unrest in Kenosha often brings out strong emotions that need attention. We’ve collected some resources for coping with the aftermath of community trauma and stress, and understanding the special needs of children during traumatic events.

September is Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month. This year’s monthly observance is different than the ones that have come before. This year, we are facing a global pandemic and civil unrest in response to racist police brutality and practices.

Before the YWCA Unlearning Racism course, I thought I knew everything about racism, biases, and how race impacts how one moves throughout the world.

Community Advocates Public Policy Institute believes Congress must act quickly to address Earned Income Payment flaws, completing the work of the CARES Act and laying a strong foundation for additional stimulus payments.

We joined with partnering organizations to write to Wisconsin's Congressional delegation about need to pass another relief package that addresses effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated health and economic crises on struggling Wisconsinites.

Coping with the stress and strains of life during a pandemic while also dealing with social unrest brought on by racist police brutality are contributing to more substance abuse, according to public health experts. It doesn’t help that a powerful synthetic opioid is showing up in Wisconsin, too.

There were about 300 more evictions in Milwaukee County during the month of June 2020 (1,473) than there were in June 2019 (1,166), which is a significant 20.8% increase. Both across the state and in Milwaukee, there has also been a significant increase in evictions compared to the months before the pandemic.

Community Advocates Public Policy Institute signed on to support the Pandemic TANF Assistance Act, introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) in the US Senate. This proposed bill combines two things that we need NOW: Access to emergency assistance grants for low income people hurt by the current economic crisis, and subsidized employment for individuals who can't find work as it becomes safe to return to work. We hope that Congress will include it in its next COVID-19 package.

The Wisconsin Public Health Association has announced Anneke Mohr will receive its Spirit of Public Health Award, which recognizes “the contributions of an individual who is part of the fabric of public health in his/her community and whose goal is to be ‘of use.’”

“Senator Baldwin has crafted two bills that would provide immediate relief to employers and out-of-work individuals impacted by the coronavirus epidemic, while also setting the foundation for a long-term solution to persistent racial and ethnic disparities in employment and generational poverty,” said Julie Kerksick, Senior Policy Advocate at Community Advocates Public Policy Institute.

Two issues that are top of mind right now -- the COVID-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement -- shed light on how racism is a public health issue since both the coronavirus and police brutality disproportionately affect the health and safety of communities of color.

We’re living through remarkable times and current events are affecting each of us in different ways. Our Prevention Team has collected resources, songs, videos, and quotes to help our community members deepen their understanding of race in America, being a white ally, and “soothing the soul.”

Community Advocates’ core values of dignity and respect for all we serve guides us in our work each day. We are incensed by the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Dontre Hamilton, Sylville Smith, Tony McDade, Joel Acevedo and countless other men and women whose lives have been stolen, many at the hands of law enforcement.

With the statewide ban on evictions ending on Tuesday, May 26, 2020, Community Advocates is experiencing a surge of calls from households still experiencing hardship due to COVID-19 who are worried or confused about what is next and how to get help. Here are some things landlords and tenants need to know.

Tips for maintaining stable rental housing during COVID-19.

Members of the Healthy Housing Initiative and rental housing stakeholders presented this webinar on what tenants, landlords, and decision-makers can expect during the time of coronavirus.

Like every other organization, Community Advocates Public Policy Institute has been challenged to adapt to the unique demands of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our response has been to provide our regular services on the phone or via email, and to use video calls and webinars to stay connected, instead of in-person meetings. We’re also impressed by how many Milwaukee-based youth-serving agencies are staying connected to the young people and families who access their services.

This housing insecurity crisis can be prevented with swift and comprehensive intervention, writes rental housing stakeholders Community Advocates Public Policy Institute, Wisconsin Apartment Association, Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee, and Mediate Milwaukee.

Vanesa has a background in human services, mostly focusing on workforce development programs, and has managerial experience. During her downtime, she serves as vice president of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network’s Greater Milwaukee Chapter. She will be managing the prevention team and building stronger links between our prevention work and policy research and advocacy.

The state of Wisconsin has been working to get the online systems in place for the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. PUA has been created to help workers not covered under regular Unemployment Insurance, such as workers who are self-employed, independent contractors, workers with limited work history, and others.

On April 14, Community Advocates, Inc., Wisconsin Apartment Association, Apartment Association of Southeastern Wisconsin. Mediate Milwaukee, and Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee sent a letter to Gov. Tony Evers and legislative leaders asking for help with housing during the COVID-19 pandemic to prevent widespread housing instability.

The coronavirus pandemic has put many people's health and incomes at risk. Here are some tips for landlords for communicating with your tenants during this public health emergency. Questions? Contact our Rent HelpLine at 414-270-4646 or

Although there is a temporary ban on evictions right now due to the coronavirus pandemic, it's important for tenants to stay on top of their rent and utilities bills. If you're having trouble making ends meet, contact our Rent HelpLine at 414-270-4646 or

These are unusual, difficult times for young people and families. Fortunately, there are many resources available to those who need assistance during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) public health emergency. We’ve collected some of them here to help youth and families stay healthy, keep up with their bills, and make sure their needs are being met.

Resources on health, mental health, community services and more in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and nationally for guidance during the coronavirus public health emergency.

In response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, Community Advocates Public Policy Institute led fellow advocates, nurses, educators, social workers, the faith community, and more, in sending a letter to the Governor of Wisconsin making a number of recommendations that would help limit the impact of coronavirus.

News about COVID-19 (or coronavirus) is changing by the hour, with public events and venues closing in response. As prevention advocates, we are trying to get the word out about how to halt the spread of COVID-19 in its tracks so that its impact is marginal. Check out these resources.

On February 6, 2020, a new FDA regulation went into effect banning certain types of e-cigarettes thought to be most attractive to youth -- reusable pod-based devices in all flavors except tobacco and menthol. New types of disposable e-cigarettes, however, seem to have no trouble blasting through the many loopholes in the new federal regulation. Take Puff Bars, for example, which seem to be replacing JUULs as the go-to vape device that appeals to youth.

Community Advocates Public Policy Institute’s new report, "Home Is Where Our Health Is: Policies to Improve the Health of Renters in Milwaukee and Beyond," recommends 32 key federal, state, and local policy changes that would improve housing outcomes, advance racial and economic equity, and cultivate healthier communities.

Childhood lead poisoning is far too common in Milwaukee, and it has powerfully negative lifetime effects on health. Describing “what needs to be done” to prevent childhood lead exposures is relatively simple, but doing what needs to be done is not easy.

Community Advocates Public Policy Institute is proud to be a partner in the City of Milwaukee’s free gun lock distribution initiative. The Milwaukee-based Master Lock Company donated 1,000 keyed gun locks to the city’s Office of Violence Prevention, which is distributing them to community partners and individuals. The gun locks are available upon request at Community Advocates’ downtown offices’ front desk at 728 N. James Lovell St., Milwaukee, during regular business hours.

“Although there has been some confusion around how this new policy will be enforced, all retailers across the country are now required to follow federal law, and should only sell tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to adults 21 and older,” said Anneke Mohr, Coordinator of the City of Milwaukee Tobacco-Free Alliance.

We all know that we need to engage with, listen to, and support young people before they begin using substances so that we can prevent them from misusing them or becoming addicted. Throughout 2019, the Public Policy Institute’s prevention team has sought out opportunities to work with youth and allow them to shine.

Community Advocates Public Policy Institute's policy team in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, tackled healthy housing, transitional jobs, reentry of formerly incarcerated individuals, the safety net, and more in 2019.

As part of my work as Contract Monitor for our partners in the Milwaukee Brighter Futures Initiative, I am able to witness the real-world application of Botvin LifeSkills Training among the youth in our community. I’m frequently impressed by how well the facilitators are able to adapt and amplify the lessons they explore in the LifeSkills curriculum with the young people they serve.

Milwaukee Fire Department Deputy Chief Aaron Lipski says the next step in preventing overdoses is being taken with the formation of the Milwaukee Overdose Response Initiative (MORI), which pairs Milwaukee Fire Department community firefighter paramedics with two peer supports to engage individuals who’d overdosed the previous day.

An estimated 24% of Wisconsinites binge drink, compared to the national median of 16%, and on average they had 4.1 binge drinking episodes per month. That put Wisconsin at #2 in the nation for binge drinking.

Community Advocates Public Policy Institute was thrilled to support its Founding Director and Senior Fellow David Riemer’s latest endeavor, the book Putting Government in Its Place: The Case for a New Deal 3.0, in which David argues that the New Deal Era is not dead. In fact, now is the perfect time to update it to address our current needs and disparities.

Milwaukee’s prevention community got creative when they raised awareness of the importance of substance abuse prevention during Red Ribbon Week 2019 (October 17-31). “We want to carry the spirit of Red Ribbon Week with us throughout the year,” said Amanda Clark, Coordinator of the 53206 Drug-Free Communities Project.

It’s always a good time to celebrate the benefits of living drug free, and Red Ribbon Week (October 23-31), sponsored by National Family Partnership, is one of the better opportunities to raise awareness and show support for substance-free activities. This year’s theme is “Send a message. Stay drug free,” and the organizers provide a number of ways you can send the message you care about building a drug-free community.

“We’re looking forward to a lively discussion on what residents and elected officials can do to target underage drinking as well as binge drinking among adults,” said Jazzmyne Adams, Coordinator of the Southeast Region of the Alliance for Wisconsin Youth. “We think that Wisconsin is ready for this conversation.”

Join the Alliance for Wisconsin Youth and the Milwaukee County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition for this one-of-a-kind look at our drinking culture, both nationally and in Wisconsin, and what local advocates and elected officials can to do prevent the harm associated with problematic alcohol consumption.

“There have been a number of drug take-back events in communities surrounding the Amani neighborhood, but until now no one has organized one in Amani,” said Amanda Clark, Coordinator of the 53206 Drug-Free Communities Project.

Dr. Michael McNett is presenting “Alternatives to Opioids in Treating Acute and Chronic Pain” for primary care physicians, specialty physicians, allied health professionals, nurses, social workers and staff on two dates in September. Participants will learn why opioids should only be used as a last resort in treating acute and chronic pain, and which non-opioid medications and techniques treat acute and/or chronic pain.

Members of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies gathered to provide support and connection at Milwaukee’s first LGBTQ+ Youth Substance Use Prevention Summit at the Stackner Cabaret on August 8. Organized by the City of Milwaukee Tobacco-Free Alliance, the 53206 Drug-Free Communities Project, and Safe & Sound’s 27th Street West Drug Free Coalition, the evening featured a resource fair, panel discussion, video presentations, dinner, and a drag show.