Dane County Board unveils homeless initiatives - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Dane County Board unveils homeless initiatives

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MADISON (WKOW) -- New proposed initiatives would help Dane County's homeless population.

The county board unveiled their homeless initiatives on Friday.

The board said the initiatives would not only give the county's homeless access to a permanent, year-round daytime shelter, but also affordable housing and other facilities.

"The day resource center will make sure folks have a warm place to be and have support in stabilizing their lives," Dane County Supervisor Heidi Wegleitner said.

The proposed permanent day center would include daily living necessities, such as restrooms, laundry, showers and storage lockers.

"In creating a permanent day resource center for homeless folks, we're trying to locate all these amenities and services in one place, so folks can connect to jobs, employment and housing," Wegleitner said.

Another proposal is to build an apartment building, in which people of limited means could rent a single room. The building would cost the county an estimated $1.7 million over two years.

The county will also rent space somewhere in Madison for a homeless warming shelter from mid-November through March 2013.

"We will rent shelter space through the winter, and that's important, but it's not enough," Dane County Board Vice Chair John Hendrick said. "People need shelter from the heat and rain as well as the cold. They also need a safe, clean place to access daily necessities, as well as a path to real housing, even if that's just a room. A place to call your own, however small, is a powerful thing."

 

The proposed permanent day center will cost $600,000 to build and $150,000 per year to operate. Besides the daily living necessities, it will also include phones, computers and mailboxes to assist with applying for jobs, housing and public services.

"What we are actually doing is fiscal responsibility," Dane County Supervisor Carousel Bayrd said. "By spending money now, not only are we improving lives and making a difference, we're saving money down the road, so that these people are more independent, more stable, don't need housing services, don't need more services when they're at a more dire place in their lives."

Funding to Briarpatch for outreach to homeless youth is being proposed, as well as a comprehensive study of the housing needs and resources of Dane County.

An additional public toilet has been installed this month in the county parking ramp in downtown Madison.

"This is the kind of thing County government is really meant to do," Wegleitner said. "We can only tackle the issue of homelessness with a comprehensive approach to the immediate needs of shelter and safety followed by access to other services. I'm proud of our County Board for taking that approach."

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