Madison, Dane Co. reveal spot for new men’s homeless shelter

Dane Co. and Madison selected a plot of city-owned land near Madison College’s Truax Campus as the location for its new permanent shelter for men.
Published: Mar. 9, 2022 at 10:39 AM CST|Updated: Mar. 9, 2022 at 6:38 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Dane Co. and Madison selected a plot of city-owned land near Madison College’s Truax Campus as the location for its new permanent shelter for men experiencing homelessness. Co. Executive Joe Parisi and Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway teamed up Wednesday morning to announce the shelter would be located at 1902 Bartillon Drive, on Madison’s north side.

Calling the announcement, “a new day in Madison’s approach to homeless services,” Rhodes-Conway noted that it offers access to transportation, job training, and is not far from the downtown area. The city described the facility as the first purpose-built shelter that will provide a safer place for men to go and offer them a better opportunity for them to find permanent housing.

”This is not going to be anything like an encampment,” Mayor Rhodes-Conway said. “This is a purpose built shelter for people experiencing homelessness. It’s a very very different situation.”

Porchlight Solutions to Homelessness Executive Director Karla Thennes said if her organization has their own permanent place, then those experiencing homelessness can focus less on temporary needs and more on their well-being.

“So I have been at Porchlight for 30 years, I haven’t known anything else,” Thennes said. “I have just known people queuing outside, right in front of the capitol on the sidewalk, being smashed downstairs, eating their meal sitting on a matt on the floor.”

She and the mayor said they would invite people experiencing homelessness to participate in the planning process.

”We’re going to have a committee of folks with lived experience involved in making decisions on what this place looks like,” Thennes said. “Who’s better to say what’s needed besides the folks who use it? So we’re excited to get all that going.”

The selection of the land where the shelter will go is still an early step in the process. Rhodes-Conway explained that a resolution will be presented to the Common Council for its approval soon. City and county leaders will also need to enlist designers for the facility and hope to have that process completed by the end of the year.

The City of Madison and Dane County announced plans to build a permanent men’s shelter at 1902 Bartillon Drive. The...

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The mayor added that $9 million has been set aside for the project, but a true price tag will not be known until the design work is completed. The company who will run the shelter will still need to be selected as well. City and county leaders hope to break ground on the new facility sometime next year.

Parisi pointed out that the county has pledged $3 million to the project and said, “[w]e are happy to partner with the City of Madison on this project to provide our most vulnerable residents with the space and shelter they need to stay safe.”

As part of the project, the city will also move the current temporary men’s shelter on First Street to another city-owned property on Zeier Road, which will serve as a shelter until the new one is completed. The change of location makes way for the First Street property to be renovated into the Madison Public Market later this year.

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