Madison's Mayor: Crime decrease at affordable housing complex

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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Madison mayor Paul Soglin reports police have seen a significant drop in calls for service to an affordable apartment complex on Madison’s West side.

City leaders held a press conference Thursday afternoon in regards to the progress of the apartment on the 7900 block of Tree Lane.

According to Mayor Paul Soglin, the number of police calls increased to as many as 50 times a month during its peak in the winter months. He said it has dropped significantly since then.

NBC15 first reported at the end of Nov. there were 213 calls for service to the area. A call for service is when police respond to the area, but it does not mean a crime was committed.

NBC15 requested additional records from the Madison Police Department Thursday. According to police call records, from Dec. to Mar., there were 196 calls for service to the area. Out of those calls for service, a case exists on 70 of the calls.

In November, there were 52 calls for service. In December, there were 87 calls for service, January had 69 calls, and February had 28 calls. From March 1 to March 10, there have been 10 calls for police.

Both Mayor Soglin and the alder representing the area, Paul Skidmore, said the affordable housing development was ambitious and they have taken several steps to address issues at the apartment building. Mayor Soglin said this includes increased security, case management and more.

"We've already seen an improvement, and we expect that as we go into the summer and fall that improvement will continue," Mayor Soglin said.

Skidmore said they knew they would face challenges.

“We have a significant population with special needs and we knew there would be some challenges. We didn't know because we never have been in this position before. We're here now and we're taking the necessary steps to correct that to fine-tune that and we are seeing results," he said.

The president of the nearby Oakbridge Neighborhood Association, Abigail Darwin, said they are pleased with the progress and credit an increase in social services to the people who live there.

"I think that is what has really been contributing to the reduction in crime, and all of use in the surrounding areas, not just Oakbridge, hope this downward trend continues," Darwin said.

Amina Holt, a resident of Tree Lane, said she has lived there with her two kids since it opened in June. She said while there have been problems, she chooses to see the positive.

"There are problems with anything that is new and being tired out, but I was really grateful to get the opportunity. I feel like some issues are to be expected," she said.

Holt said many of the residents who live there, including herself, have been through a lot.

"I think a lot of families are trying to sort of get into routines and have some normalcy," she said.

A nearby neighborhood resident who also volunteer at the complex, Mike Kern, said he has seen an improvement and credits an increase in resources.

"Our hope is that these things are taking root in such as way as spring time comes around some of the changes put it place will make it possible to, you know, make further progress," he said.

Mayor Soglin said the Deputy Mayor Gloria Reyes and an organization working directly with residents called The Road Home Dane Co. will continue to work at the complex and monitor the progress.

NBC15 spoke with Madison mayoral candidate Satya Rhodes-Conway following Thursday's press conference. She commented on the lessons she has learned from issues surrounding the apartment building.

"I am still trying to learn from it, I think learning is a continuous process, but what I have heard so far, is that we need to be really mindful about making sure we have relationships between the developer and local service providers," said Rhodes-Conway. "We need to make sure that we have enough resources on site for people to access those services."