COPY-Madison recommends two buildings as possible shelters for undocumented children
MADISON (WKOW) -- The City of Madison is giving the federal government two options for a shelter that could house up to 250 undocumented children for a period of 30 to 60 days.
Donald Marx, Manager of the City of Madison Office of Real Estate Services, sent a letter to FEMA on Thursday suggesting two buildings that could serve as an emergency shelter.
Both buildings are on the city's north side. One is the former Cub Foods store at 4141 Nakoosa Trail, just off of Stoughton Road. The other is the Shopko just off of Aberg Avenue.
"We researched the availability of sites within the metro-Madison area that meet your minimum qualifications," wrote Marx in the letter to FEMA. "Please advise if you need additional information."
The federal government had asked city leaders to identify possible shelter locations, to help deal with the thousands of Central American children that have been flowing across the U.S. border with Mexico this summer. Many are trying to escape escalating gang violence in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.
The Shopko is in a relatively busy commercial area, with a golf course, grocery store and credit union bordering its parking lot.
Realtor Michael Hanson plays golf at The Bridges course next door twice a week, but says a shelter for the immigrant children wouldn't bother him.
"No, I can't imagine it would be any change whatsoever. I mean its a pretty isolated area off the street and, as far as the course goes, I don't understand why it would be any issue at all," said Hanson.
Several shoppers at the Copps grocery store also told 27 News they wouldn't have a problem with the Shopko becoming a temporary shelter.
"Well, if they aren't using it for anything else, kids have to go somewhere," said shopper Dan Wiltrout. "Next to a grocery store, not a bad idea."
The Shopko is going out of business, but wouldn't be available to FEMA until after August 31st. FEMA would have to negotiate directly with Shopko for the rights use the property, because they still own it.
But the City of Madison owns the former Cub Foods property and could negotiate for its use directly with FEMA. It is bordered only by a Walmart and a convenience store. It has far less traffic coming in and out the area and, unlike the Shopko, it would be available immediately.
While FEMA is handling the temporary shelters, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will be in charge of transitioning the children into alternative housing after 30 days. After leaving the shelter, a child would either have to stay with an adult in the area willing to sponsor them, or be placed in long-term foster care or another licensed child welfare program. As 27 News reported last week, a local immigration attorney said most of the kids would be in the area for at least one year. That is the average time it takes for an asylum case to make its way through the U.S. Immigration Court in Chicago.