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Finance Committee passes resolutions to move forward with two east side homeless shelter locations

Madison WMTV logo Madison WMTV 9/28/2021 Gretchen Gerlach
Proposed shelter location © Provided by Madison WMTV Proposed shelter location

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Madison is one step closer to acquiring property that could be used for either a temporary or permanent men’s homeless shelter.

The City’s Finance Committee passed two resolutions today, one for the property at 1902 Bartillon Dr. and the other for 2002 Zeier Rd. According to the resolution language, the location at Bartillon Dr. could provide the city with “both short-term and long-term options to address homelessness.” The Zeier Rd. location could be used “as a temporary men’s homeless shelter and as a long-term site for redevelopment.”

Some Alders fear that because the language includes long-term options, what location is used as a temporary homeless shelter could become permanent.

“If we’re going to spend $11 million or $13 million on a temporary shelter, the question is valid: would the city spend another $15-20 million on a permanent shelter?” said Council President and District 12 Alder Syed Abbas. “Will the City Council approves that?”

District 17 Alder Gary Halverson has similar concerns. He worries the homeless population is becoming very dense in the district.

“We are more than happy to help but when it’s all concentrated and not governed very well we have a very big problem here,” Halverson said.

Both alders say they were surprised the Zeier Rd. location was up for discussion again. In May the Council turned down a permanent shelter at Zeier Rd. Ald. Abbas says he voted against the location because it lacked accessibility to public transportation and is isolated from other services. Ald. Halverson adds, it’s located at a mall that is trying to rebuild from the pandemic.

“It’s in the middle of a business district, a mall that is in a depressed area that is struggling right now that’s in bankruptcy that’s trying to recruit developments and encouraging development here,” Halverson said. “It sends a message to the businesses that are trying to recover from a pandemic. It’s going to make it that much more difficult for them.”

Five permanent shelter locations are already up for consideration by the Council next month. It’s another reason why Als. abbas feels the push for a temporary location is rushed.

“We are very close, like three weeks away from presenting a permanent shelter location,” he said. “So it’s kind of surprising to see Zeier Road is pushing forward without having a permanent shelter in front of us.”

Both alders agree the Bartillon Dr. location has more to offer, whether city moves forward with using it as a shelter or not.

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