Water Equity Clearinghouse

Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers

Milwaukee, WI

Since 1969, Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers (SSCHC) has provided high-quality healthcare, health education, and social services for residents of the multicultural neighborhoods on Milwaukee’s South Side. An independent nonprofit organization, SSCHC now operates at five locations, and is the only source of medical care for more than 7,500 individuals without any health insurance and nearly 19,000 patients who rely on Medicaid. SSCHC’s staff is fully bilingual and mostly local, with deep connections to the neighborhoods where the organization’s 40,000-person client base lives.

SSCHC’s comprehensive health services include adult and pediatric medicine, behavioral health services, social services, women’s health, HIV prevention and treatment, and an array of other supplemental programs. Its innovative programming extends beyond basic healthcare to include the complete health of the individual and the broader community.

Efforts to Advance Water Equity

SSCHC is involved in a partnership with the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District to revitalize and restore the Kinnickinnic River Watershed. The utility is developing a watershed-specific green infrastructure plan to identify areas where this stormwater management technique can have the greatest impact to reduce flooding, improve water quality, and restore green space along the river. MMSD purchased some of the homes directly in the floodplain, creating space for a wider, slower channel and allowing homeowners in high risk areas to relocate. Concrete has already been removed in some areas, and the channel is becoming more hospitable to trout and salmon. SSCHC is also playing a major role in the redevelopment and revitalization of Milwaukee’s Harbor District. Its bilingual community outreach and engagement efforts will ensure that new investment within the Harbor District generates economic, recreational, and environmental benefits for families living on Milwaukee’s near south side. The Harbor District, the Menomonee Valley, and the Kinnickinnic River Corridor surround the neighborhoods that are home to most of SSCHC’s patient population.

Additionally, Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers is leading a Community Lead Outreach Program to raise awareness about lead poisoning prevention. SSCHC staff educates homeowners, tenants, and landlords about the risks of lead exposure, and provide blood tests for children who might be exposed to lead. The organization has also distributed water filters to residents of areas with lead service lines, and provided information on filter installation and maintenance.