As winter approaches, a new daytime shelter in Dane County will provide the homeless with warmth from early November until April.
Dane County plans to partner with Domestic Abuse Intervention Services and Porchlight, a homeless shelter in the county, and allocate funds toward daytime vouchers for hotels to victims of domestic violence, according to a county executive statement. It said Porchlight will help with staffing, programming and transportation of the shelter.
The statement said DAIS will provide day vouchers to hotels in order to help domestic violence victims get away from their abuser and feel safe.
“It’s starting to come upon winter and there’s no place [for the homeless] to go,” Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said.
According to Parisi, the daytime warming center provided by the county will be located on Wright Street near Madison Area Technical College. He said it is expected to have up to 100 people but that the number may vary.
Parisi said the homeless face a variety of issues in the winter including staying warm, finding meals and limiting drug and alcohol use.
Steven Schooler, executive director of Porchlight, said the transportation aims to help the center become more accessible because it is difficult for some of its patrons to walk to the shelter. He said Porchlight had a similar shelter on East Washington Avenue last year, but the building is no longer available as shelter.
“It should serve a similar number of people as last year, but [provide] better services,” Schooler said. “It is designed to provide this assistance.”
Ald. Bridget Maniaci, District 2, said the demand for homeless shelters is high and she is glad the county made the decision to provide a new shelter. She said she expects the plan to help homeless people get back on their feet.
In addition to the daytime warming center, Maniaci said the city also provides an overnight shelter during the winter. She said the city is not able to accommodate all those seeking shelter during winter.
Maniaci added Bethel Lutheran Church also provides a daytime shelter for the homeless.
The statement said the county executive’s plans include a directive to the county’s Department of Health Services to provide an assessment of the $1.5 million the county has already spent in services toward homelessness. It said the goals are to identify potential places of improvement and make better use of funding.
Parisi said it is a priority to provide the homeless with better opportunity to keep warm this winter and to provide safety to those suffering from domestic violence.
“This is a temporary solution to something that needs a long-term solution,” Parisi said.
According to the statement, both plans are pending approval from the County Board and its Personnel and Finance Committee.
The daytime warming center will open Nov. 1 and run through April 1, according to the statement. It also said the daytime vouchers for hotels for domestic abuse victims will provide $15,000, which will last until the end of the year.