The Madison Warming Center Campaign, a coalition composed of
students and local homeless individuals, is currently working to
establish a center that would provide not only a warm place to
sleep, but also a comprehensive job and resource center for people
trying to get back on their feet.
<p>The coalition is comprised of one-third students and
two-thirds homeless individuals.
<p>”It’s about getting our city government to see shelters
as a human right,” campaign organizer Ryan Spangler said.
<p>Brian Peters, 25, is a college-educated man who moved
to Madison and had a job earning $13.50 per hour. However, he has
since lost his job and is now, like many other people in Madison,
<p>”I’m trying to get a job,” Peters said. “But nobody
hires anybody without an address or a phone number.”
<p>Peters is staying at the Drop-In Shelter on 116
Washington Ave., but after the 45-day limit is up, he will likely
return to the street.
<p>In 2002, 8,000 people were denied at Madison homeless
shelters, while 3,700 were granted a temporary place to stay,
according to the Homeless Consortium Report.
<p>One part of the Madison Warming Center, the overflow
center, would be a place people could go after being turned away
from other shelters in under 50-degree temperatures.
<p>The Salvation Army of Dane County provides a warming
shelter where people can spend the night, and this winter the
warming shelter had up to 16 people each night, according to Ruth
Ann Schoer, development director of the Dane County Salvation
<p>However, the shelter is only available for families,
leaving single men and women with few choices besides sleeping
outside in the cold.
<p>The effects of such conditions can prove fatal.
<p>In the winter of 2002, two men came to the drop-in
shelter during below-freezing temperatures, but they smelled of
alcohol and were turned away. The next day they were found dead,
according to Spangler, who works at the drop-in shelter.
<p>”Human survival is when you start to do irrational
things,” said 33-year-old Arthur Carey, a client at the drop-in
shelter. “Before I freeze, I will break the law.”
<p>Carey has spent time at five or six other homeless
shelters in Wisconsin and said the conditions of Madison shelters
are the worst.
<p>”It’s really degrading treatment. Staff will use
baseball bats when addressing the clients,”
<p>Spangler said, adding that there are only two
caseworkers for more than 100 men.
<p>”It’s like an animal house down here; its inhuman,
indecent,” Carey said, speaking of the drop-in shelter.
<p>Besides providing basic needs, Carey believes shelters
should help people gain independence.
<p>”Other places have social workers who help you find a
job. This is the capital and they don’t have anything to offer,”
<p>The other part of the Madison Warming Center, the
resource center, would provide members access to voice mail, a P.O.
box and job referrals.
<p>The warming center, coupled with the proposed available
resources, is drumming up support from individuals in Madison, such
as Ald. Austin King.
<p>”I think housing is a basic human right and obviously
there are a huge number of people who don’t have that right
secured, and our community has a responsibility to do something
about it,” King said.