In what’s being seen as a big move in efforts to help the homeless in Madison, Dane County is purchasing a property on the city’s Near East Side for a permanent homeless day resource center. The county has an accepted offer to purchase the former Messner Incorprated property at 1326 East Washington Avenue, for a cost of $1.42 million. The action follows a two-year search, since a temporary site was closed in 2013.
“It will give people a place not just to come in a and stay warm in the winter and cool off in the summer, it all also provide a vast array of services that people need,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. The day center is expected to offer connections to services such as mental health and substance abuse treatment, along with things like meals, laundry and showers.
“The main concept of the day resource center is to have all those services that people need to help them get back on their feet, when they walk in the door,” Parisi said. He expects the shelter will be open by the fall of 2016. The County Board must still approve the purchase, the city must approve a zoning permit, and the building will need about one million dollars in renovations.
The presence of homeless people in downtown Madison has been an ongoing concern for elected officials – in particular around the City-County building a block south of the state Capitol. There, Madison mayor Paul Soglin has characterized the situation as being out of control.
“We’re very excited,” Enis Ragland, Madison’s deputy mayor for administration and finance told the Wisconsin State Journal. “We will support them in any way we can to get the center up and moving.”