The city of Madison is considering a proposal that would provide affordable, permanent housing and supportive services for 45 homeless families on the city’s west side.
The proposal, from Chicago-based Heartland Housing Inc., outlines the construction of a four-story, 45-unit housing project at 7933 Tree Lane, complete with on-site supportive programs from YWCA Madison. The development will cost the firm roughly $12 million to build, Community Development Division Director James O’Keefe said.
The new project, O’Keefe said, would provide homeless families with “permanent supportive housing.”
“Permanent supportive housing provides not just permanent housing to the families, but also wrap-around services intended to make those families successful in their new homes,” O’Keefe said.
The YWCA services included in the housing proposal would be tailored to the needs of each family on a case-by-case basis by YWCA employees. The services, O’Keefe said, would focus on health improvement, substance abuse treatment, employment and child care support.
YWCA staffers would also provide case management for resident families to help them make the most of their new-found opportunities, YWCA Madison CEO Rachel Krinsky said.
“We would do some initial assessment and goal setting with the families, and then continue on with them for as long as they live there to help them achieve their goals,” Krinsky said. “We would also help resolve any conflicts with the management or with neighbors, as well as help the families attain any resources they need to attain.”
YMCA Madison has implemented similar programs in previous years, and said programs consistently been successful, Krinsky said.
This housing project would be the second phase in a housing initiative Mayor Paul Soglin started about a year ago, aimed at adding 1,000 new units of affordable housing over the course of five years, O’Keefe said.
The first phase of the initiative will provide housing for 60 single homeless adults on the city’s east side, O’Keefe said.
The execution of the initiative, O’Keefe said, is an appreciable shift in the city’s strategy for housing the homeless.
“In the past, service agencies would put homeless individuals or homeless families in temporary housing and attempt to provide services to meet some of their basic needs,” O’Keefe said. “Now we’re making task number one getting these individuals into permanent housing, and from there we’ll deal with some of the underlying challenges they’re facing.”
The fate of the proposal will be determined in April 2016 when the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority decides whether it will award Heartland Housing Inc. an allotment of federal low-income housing tax credits, which would constitute the bulk of the project’s funding, O’Keefe said.
In addition, the city of Madison intends to contribute $1.5 million in financing to the project, and Dane County intends to contribute up to $1 million, O’Keefe said.
O’Keefe expressed optimism over the proposal’s potential to lift families out of poverty.
“We think projects like this provide the most effective means of helping families overcome challenges to housing stability and putting an end to chronic homelessness in this city, which is ultimately our goal,” O’Keefe said.