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Porchlight Executive Director Steve Schooler reveals the shelter for veterans.[/media-credit]

A Madison homeless prevention and treatment agency celebrated the opening of a new facility Tuesday aimed at housing homeless veterans.

Porchlight, a nonprofit agency, contains 24 units and will house people who meet certain criteria. Residents of the facility must be veterans, homeless and have been honorably discharged from the military or at least not have been dishonorably discharged. The facility is located at 112 N. Mills St.

According to Executive Director of Porchlight Steve Schooler, construction for the facility began last spring, with the overall cost more than $300,000. The cost, Schooler said, was covered by a variety of parties, including Epic Systems, Madison Club Foundation, the Veterans Administration and National Guardian Life, among others.

The opening of the facility is one part of a wider program from Porchlight and Veterans Administration aiming to provide transitional shelter to homeless veterans as they attempt to work toward homeless solutions.

“I truly revere and respect those that have sacrificed for us. … This program will help those that have served us,” Schooler said.

Schooler said the facility provides three meals a day and also provides outpatient services, vocational training and health services.

Bob Carreon, an alcohol and drug case manager for Porchlight, said there is a waiting list to get into the facility, and he expects the facility will fill up very soon. Those not getting into the facility will be helped to find other accommodations, he added.

A tour of the facility showed each veteran will have their separate room, with a shared bathroom between two housing units. The shelter also contains an office and a kitchen area serving as a cafeteria for the residents.

Mayor Dave Cieslewicz was present at the opening and congratulated Porchlight in setting up the shelter.

“Porchlight does tremendous work in our community,” Cieslewicz said. “We really rely on [Schooler] on good advice and counsel of issues relating to homelessness in our community.”

Cieslewicz added having Porchlight in the community is “tremendously important” and vital for the city of Madison.

Dean Krahn, chief of Mental Health Services at the Middleton Veterans Hospital, said the time is now to end the problem of homeless veterans both at a local and national scale. He added the fact we are still addressing this problem after Abraham Lincoln first addressed the issue means society has accepted this problem as “OK.”

“The time has come to end that disgrace for our country,” Krahn said, adding everyone needs to contribute to end homelessness.

Moreover, Krahn said women have become an increasing part of the country’s military and few services have been offered to female veterans until just recently.

Ian Webb, a veteran of the Beirut conflict, has been living at the shelter since Saturday. Webb said he was homeless in 2008, and the shelter has been very helpful.

“[The shelter] has knocked off a big barrier for me for homelessness,” Webb said.