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Madison nonprofit builds tiny homes to combat homelessness

Occupy Madison is aiming to provide secure transitional housing for this community.
Published: Oct. 15, 2020 at 11:01 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -A local nonprofit is building a new tiny house village on Madison’s East side to provide options for the homeless before winter.

Tom Nelson, U.S. veteran and Madison resident, said he’s been living outside in a tent for two years.

“Hopeless, I’ve worked hard all of my life,” Nelson said. “Now I feel like I’m some kind of bum, but I’m not. But that’s how you feel.”

Nelson said he’s been on a waiting list to get housing for a couple years, but as the temperatures drop the wait feels that much longer.

“I’ve had frostbite three to four different times in my lifetime,” he said. "It’s getting cold outside, and we’re human beings.

People living in homelessness said the winter months are one of their biggest fears.

Occupy Madison is aiming to provide secure transitional housing for this community.

Organization members built the first tiny house village six years ago on 304 N. Third Street.

Brenda Konkel, Occupy Madison co-president, and her team are building a second tiny home village a few miles away at 1901 Aberg Ave.

“What you see when people have their own space, they really thrive,” Konkel said.

Konkel said community members were able to get jobs shortly after moving in.

“When you can get up in the morning, take a shower and get ready for work it makes all the difference,” she said.

Amid covid-19, temporary encampments are allowed in Madison to lower the risk of the virus spreading in shelters.

“Not ideal. I don’t think anyone would prefer to live there, but if it’s that or sleeping on the sidewalk, it’s preferred,” Konkel said.

She explained the tiny homes offer a bed to sleep in and a second chance.

“It’s a place to get mail and do the simple things in life,” she said.

The homes have electricity and heat with insulated walls. It only takes a few days to build.

Officials say the goal is to have nearly 30 homes move-in ready by Christmas.

To help with the fund to build tiny homes in Madison, visit the Occupy Madison donation page.

Copyright 2020 WMTV. All rights reserved.

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