A City Council meeting was hosted at Madison Municipal Court Tuesday night to focus on homelessness and civil rights in Madison.
Ald. Samba Baldeh, District 17, addressed the general body and started the meeting by calling through the items on the agenda.
Two public hearings were presented to the council members on two separate plans, focusing on resources for translation services and homelessness in Madison.
The Language Access Plan was presented by Department of Civil Rights Director Norman Davis, Contract Compliance Specialist Kate McCarthy and Affirmative Action Specialist Kristen Vanderscheuren. This plan aims to provide residents and visitors of Madison with both written and oral translation services.
“We want to recognize all individuals, as they should be able to access all the services this city can offer,” Davis said.
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Based on the focus groups and a staff survey which reached 500 participants, the Department of Civil Rights concluded the top four languages in Madison after English are Spanish, Hmong, Chinese and ASL.
McCarthy suggested the city should offer a 24-hour service line offering multiple language options and translation for important legal documents.
“More importantly, the city should increase the access to multilingual emergency responders,” McCarthy said.
The speakers, however, believe the funding for the LAP program is inadequate. The council agreed, and the Department of Social Justice will request an increase in funding from Mayor Paul Soglin.
Linette Rhodes, the grants administrator from the Community Development Block Grant, addressed chronic homelessness within Madison and Dane County. She presented the council with data demonstrating the decreasing number of veterans who are homeless, the chronically homeless and homeless families from 2016 to 2017.
“We aim to engage individuals who are experiencing homelessness or are formerly homeless, the officials, housing and service providers, advocates, landlords, developers and funders,” Rhodes said.
Rhodes shared with the council strategies to end veteran homelessness such as diverting veterans from the homeless system, implementing bridge housing systems, coordinating efficient services and maintaining stakeholder engagement. The council responded to the report with applause.
The council adjourned after a few more hearings regarding sustainable energy, sidewalk conditions, possible park facilities improvement and the nonprofit art program “CommUNITY Arts.” The council will reconvene next on Oct. 3.