overheard: an old friend helps find housing for the homeless and mentally ill
"Andrew DeFranza has been trying to find homes for people in Milwaukee with mental illness for a couple of years now. He knows the way it works around here. He's learned the refrain.
Yes, some of those places are real hellholes. Rats. Broken toilets. Sometimes, there's no water or heat. But where else are you going to put a guy with schizophrenia and a criminal history who gets $600 a month in Social Security? Good luck finding a landlord with a decent building who will take in someone like that.
DeFranza, the executive director of Milwaukee's Guest House, is not buying it.
"I'm not Midwestern nice," said DeFranza, 33, a New Jersey native who looks more than a little bit like a young Robert DeNiro."