The Dane County Salvation Army discussed its transition from a 90-day family shelter into a drop-in shelter at a City-County Homeless Issues Committee meeting Monday night.
Community organizations have worked diligently to improve the city landscape for the local homeless community.
Melissa Sorensen, director of social services at the Dane County Salvation Army, said individuals in the 90-day family shelter were notified in August about the transition allowing for a quick change with minimal resistance.
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The Salvation Army operates Dane County’s only nightly drop-in family shelter and until this change, also the 90-day family shelter. As of Nov. 1, the Salvation Army officially replaced the 90-day family shelter with a nightly, drop-in shelter for women and families only at the East Washington Avenue location.
“After this transition we were able to take a family at midnight that was brought in by a police officer,” Sorensen said. “We haven’t been able to do that in a very long time.”
Sorensen said they have not denied a single family from the shelter since the switch to an emergency shelter, highlighting a recent example of a family with twin newborns who needed accommodations this week on short-notice.
Currently, Sorensen said individuals and families are able to call the Dane County Housing Resource Line before 12 p.m. to receive support or sign up for the shelter the night before. An in-take employee from the Salvation Army will set up the logistics after being called on the resource line. They will then contact the family back before 1 p.m. with the appropriate shelter information.
Sorensen said this can help families plan for the rest of their night which can be useful for times when families may be turned away.
The Salvation Army is working on expanding their sign up system to include email so people who are out of minutes on their phone can still receive support, Sorensen said.