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The first seven of 20 key-shaped collection boxes for homeless services were unveiled today Downtown. (PHOTO: Carolynn Buser)

Those mysterious tarped objects Downtown were unveiled today

Have you noticed a number of low objects installed Downtown lately that are hidden beneath tarps? These mysterious things were unveiled today and are meant to help Milwaukee's homeless population.

While on a road trip last month, I noticed that Louisville has change collection boxes along its downtown museum row. The Positive Change boxes collect change for programs that benefit the homeless. I thought the boxes, installed in 2011, were a good idea.

A few days later, back in Milwaukee, I learned that these masked arrivals Downtown are a similar project. They are coin collection meters that are part of Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21's Key to Change collaboration with Milwaukee County's Housing Division, Marquette University, MPD, the City and the District's Attorney Office.

The Key to Change mission is "To elevate awareness of our community's quality of life programs, which are key in effectively assisting citizens with mental health and substance abuse issues, and end chronic homelessness and public nuisance behaviors."

Phase one of the program includes the installation of the first seven of the 20 key-shaped meters that will be installed in East Town, Westown and The Third Ward. Just as in Louisville, 100 percent of the proceeds will be used for housing assistance, including an outreach coordinator, move-in kits and more.

Donations to Key to Change can also be made online at Using the online system allows donors to receive a receipt for their tax-deductible contributions and to allocate their donations to one of three programs: Downtown Homeless Outreach Coordinator funding, Housing First Endowment Fund support or for the purchase of move-in kits for Housing First participants.

For more information on Key to Change, visit


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