Deaths of unhoused people in Milwaukee rising

By: - November 24, 2022 5:42 am
person sitting alone on the street at night, dark depression

Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay

Deaths among unhoused Milwaukeeans are rising, according to the Milwaukee Medical Examiner’s Office. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the medical examiner’s office has recorded 52 deaths of unhoused people in 2021, up from 21 in 2018. The Sentinel references data obtained by the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service.

Data for January and February suggest that the county may again set a high bar for deaths among unhoused Milwaukeeans. A leading cause of the deaths appears to be  opioids, particularly fentanyl. However, It’s hard to get an  exact count  of people who are living on the streets in Wisconsin’s largest city.

In recent years hMilwaukee’s unhoused population has become more introverted. Rather than massing together in parks or under highways, unhoused Milwaukeeans are seeking out  more secluded areas. This makes tracking the number of unhoused people in the city more difficult, and tracking their deaths is no easier. Last October, the unhoused outreach group Street Angels noted that it was encountering nearly 500 unique people per week struggling with being unhoused.

Evictions are also on the rise in Milwaukee County. Just in time for the holidays, Milwaukee is seeing its first major eviction spike since March. According to Eviction Lab, as of Nov. 5 partial eviction filings in Milwaukee are 65% higher than average. The last time evictions were so high in the city was in February, when eviction filings were 81% higher than average.


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Isiah Holmes
Isiah Holmes

Isiah Holmes is a journalist and videographer, and a lifelong resident of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His writing has been featured in Urban Milwaukee, Isthmus, Milwaukee Stories, Milwaukee Neighborhood News Services, Pontiac Tribune, the Progressive Magazine, Al Jazeera, and other outlets.