After years of searching, Dane County will purchase a property on the east side of Madison to create a homeless day center.
The building was purchased for $1.4 million and will provide daytime shelter to the homeless, which is especially critical during the winter months. The future center, located on East Washington Avenue, will be easily accessible and nearby many homeless resource centers and meal distributors, according to a Dane County press release.
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The center must still be approved by the Board of Supervisors and is expected to provide private showers, storage space, laundry facilities, haircuts and an array of other services.
Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said that while the process of finding a location has been challenging, he hopes that now the county will work to have the new center up and running as soon as possible.
“This day resource center will be a critical system to link for our community members who have fallen on hard times to community resources and to move people from homelessness or near homelessness to employment and permanent housing,” Parisi said.
Leland Pan, District 5 Supervisor, said he expects the board to accept the purchase decision. He said that previous attempts to purchase property for such a center have been met with adversity.
Pan said that one proposed location in the Town of Madison resulted in a lawsuit surrounding zoning laws, and he felt the location was also not a good one. He said the county will likely work more closely this time with the community surrounding the center to ensure a smooth development.
Pan said up until this point, the county has relied on a temporary site on the 800 block of East Washington Avenue. He said a recent budget amendment allowed the county to afford purchasing land downtown.
Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said the county will still have to apply for a special use permit, but he expects the city will widely support it.
“Because this is such a desperately needed and long overdue facility, I expect a great amount of support,” Verveer said.
While Pan hopes that the center is open by this winter, he acknowledges that might be unrealistic. “Frankly, we should shoot for it,” Pan said.