By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Sep 13, 2017 at 1:01 PM Photography: Carolynn Buser

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 DivisionMarquette UniversityMPDthe 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

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.