Businesses voice concerns following incidents at Dairy Drive shelter

Finishline Towing across the street claims that trespassing has begun since the shelter’s opening.
Published: Mar. 30, 2022 at 10:10 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 30, 2022 at 10:26 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The Madison Police Department says the man wanted in connection to an arson at the shelter for people experiencing homelessness on Dairy Drive is now in custody. But the incident is bringing to light some concerns from the public.

The MPD says that calls to the lot have increased over the past month. Several businesses and residents have voiced concerns in the wake of a few incidents, including a stabbing and the arson that happened Tuesday.

Finishline Towing across the street claims that trespassing has begun since the shelter’s opening.

“We did notice that there was people getting into the customer cars when there wasn’t anybody around,” said service manager Justin Pharo.

He says people have consistently broken into the gated lot ever since the shelter started filling pallet homes.

“I mean, as soon as they started housing them over there, I mean there’s pieces missing almost every night,” said Pharo.

Executive director at Mach One Health Brenda Konkel says now staffers are working 24/7.

“That has greatly decreased the number of police calls; I think it was mostly people who don’t live there that were coming in that we were having problems with,” said Konkel.

Mach One Health is an organization working to bring health care to the homeless and is the group that received the contract to staff the shelter. Konkel says she has five full-time staff and others who fill in on weekends and overnight, not enough people to continue the 24/7 shifts indefinitely.

Konkel added it is not the only added measure, citing the addition of more lights and security cameras. She says calls to the police are decreasing and adds there is plenty of success to appreciate at the shelter.

“People have gotten jobs, people have reconnected with family, they have gotten their driver’s license and their social security cards and all these things, you know when you don’t have an address, it’s super hard to get so many of these things done,” said Konkel.

Konkel tells NBC15 that six former residents have moved out to find permanent housing. But people who work in the area still have concerns.

“Once someone finds out they can go somewhere and start taking stuff, they start telling all of their friends, and it can get out of control pretty fast,” said Pharo.

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