The Dane County Board of Supervisors approved the purchase of a property for use as a daytime shelter and resource center for the homeless in the 1300 block of East Washington Avenue.
By a 30-4 vote, the County Board approved spending $1.4 million to buy properties at 1314, 1316, 1318 and 1326 East Washington Avenue and move forward to secure a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) from the City of Madison. The County Board had previously allocated $2 million for the purchase.
“A permanent site for a day shelter and resource center is vital to get services to individuals and families struggling with homelessness. This purchase allows us to move forward on that commitment,” said Dane County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan.
“Having a good operator is absolutely critical,” said Supervisor Heidi Wegleitner, who represents the neighborhood where the new day shelter will operate. “An operator that is experienced in engaging the neighborhood and in responding to and addressing promptly any concerns, that’s really, really important. This is not easy. There would be issues anywhere. Our purchase is about having the option to go forward with some planning in collaboration with the neighborhood. I’m supporting this resolution tonight but I’m not going away. I’m going to fight for the neighborhood’s concerns, and I’m going to fight for quality services at the day resource center and I’m going to continue to fight for affordable permanent housing.”
Several residents and business owners from the neighborhood spoke against the purchase, citing concerns about the effect it would have on their businesses, especially as large numbers of people might congregate at bus nearby bus stops early in the evening.
“This is approval to purchase the site,” said Supervisor Jeff Pertl. “But if we don’t deliver on a transportation plan, if we don’t deliver on accommodations and modifications, if we don’t deliver on the operator and all of the accommodations and pieces that go with that, then there is no CUP and there is no day shelter. This is not the done deal. My commitment is to meet those challenges. This is the first step in the race, not the last step in the race.”
County officials intend to apply for a conditional use permit early in 2016, begin renovations and construction in the spring, and open the day resource center in the fall.