Madison is partnering with United Way and other organizations to provide low-cost apartment units for homeless people that would have otherwise stayed empty until demolition.
The Community Development Authority moved previous residents at public housing complex Truax Park into newer units in the same development, but city officials said the 27 older units are still livable. The units will offer a temporary home for families and individuals at subsidized rates until their eventual demolition.
The apartment units in question will not have many of the modern amenities found in their newer counterparts, Martha Cranley, community impact director at United Way, said.
But the upside, she added, is that the apartments will be especially affordable — a boon to those struggling to escape homelessness, at least temporarily.
United Way will integrate the aging units into its Housing First initiative, so that people and families living in a shelter will be able to lease the units and build up their rent history. The units will expand the number of homeless families served by United Way by 13 until the property is demolished at the end of 2017.
Once plans for redevelopment are finalized, residents will be evicted from the premise, Cranley said.
The city had originally planned to tear down the entire complex, but the city’s Department of Housing and Urban Development determined it would be best to tear down portions while plans are formalized, CDA housing director Agustin Olvera said. Thanks to this decision, Olvera said, the city may continue to use obsolete buildings while future construction plans are finalized.
The building contains units with up to five bedrooms, Olvera said. Because of this, the city has offered them to the Rapid Rehousing program, which offers case management and rent assistance. Rapid Rehousing works in conjunction with Housing First to provide this assistance to those who have experienced economic hardships or other problems leading to housing insecurity.
Neighbors from the surrounding area are also in support of the city’s partnership. Truax Neighborhood Association President Pat Hadden said residents are in support of the city’s repurposing of the old units. She added that the apartments are in decent shape given their age.
“If people are homeless and can rent a place for little to nothing, it’s the right thing to do,” Hadden said.
The units do not have washers, driers or air conditioning, but Hadden said they are ideal for someone who just wants to get back on their feet.
This Saturday, Cranley said, volunteers will be working to repaint and clean out the old units in preparation for their new tenants. She said student volunteers are welcome to sign up on the Dane County website.