Madison Common Council Takes up Men’s Shelter Location Decision on Tuesday (5/4)

by Safety Connection

“Right idea, wrong location” says Alder Barbara Harrington-McKinney about the men’s homeless shelter proposed for Zeier Road. The decision will be taken up by the Common Council this Tuesday (5/4). You can weigh in by contacting your alder at plus that district’s alder (district 17) at And register in opposition/support here (agenda item 63920).

The district’s alder (Gary Halverson) and previous alder (Baldeh) are also opposed to the location. Alder Halverson spoke to the shelter’s director who said that the current First Street location has been the most successful he’s ever seen for 3 reasons:

1) The facility is large. They can intake residents inside the building instead of them having to wait outside, especially during inclement weather. The space is also large enough to have a separate area where individuals can safely detox. They are also able to accommodate individuals who have increased anxiety when surrounded by people, they have beds that are spaced out and separated.

2) The location is downtown. Many residents are familiar with the downtown area and being close to the Beacon day center as well as other resources contributed to this more recent success. It is critical that there is easy access to the Beacon.

3) Funding for case workers. Recent funding changes due to the pandemic have allowed them to increase their case workers. These workers are critical to the goal of long-term housing. These workers can build relationships and help the residents apply for housing as well as employment opportunities. They are a vital component to the success of our goals. They could use several more case workers, but the improvement in the well-being of the residents has been significant.

Halverson added, “There were several locations identified on the original list and many were ruled out due to the timing of availability. One location that was not on the original list is the Hooper location on Pennsylvania Avenue which is available, fits our timeline and the sellers are interested. This location was introduced by President Abbas at the March 30 council meeting since it does check all the boxes that would be needed for an ideal location to build the permanent shelter.

In addition, this location is within blocks of the Beacon day center and will give us the time needed to develop the property in stages as the current plan states. This location could be remodeled for overnight shelter first to meet the timeline to open so that work on the Public Market can start. We then have the time to build out the following phases of the plan which will get us to the fully operational, purpose-built shelter. We can ensure that we provide not only an emergency shelter, but a pathway to long-term housing that facilitates the needs of each individual along the way…

…I believe we have the collective will to build out this purpose-built shelter over the next several years and ensure that our vulnerable residents experiencing homelessness will have access to a facility that will get them on the path to long term housing. I believe it is our responsibility to ensure that this done correctly from the start to ensure future success.”

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