Madison City Council declared Tuesday a city holiday honoring the Ho-Chunk Nation.

In their meeting, they also discussed labor work for homeless and investing in the Madison Public Market Foundation.

Nov. 24 was officially named “Ho-Chunk Day” to honor the Ho-Chunk Nation, as they are the original inhabitants of Madison.

Ald. Arvina Martin, District 11, said she felt the holiday would give a needed emphasis to the tribe.

“The city of Madison recognizes the historical trauma and how it still reverberates today so that healing can take place and progress can be made,” Martin said.

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After the recognition, the meeting moved to discuss the measures that have been taken to employ the homeless in nearby cities. 

Sarah Lim, a Community Development Specialist for the Department of Planning and Community and Economic Development said the staff contacted four communities that were using day job programs to conduct research. They found similarities between the implemented programs.

“Nonprofit agencies would normally drive around the city in a van frequented by panhandlers, or people experiencing homelessness, and would respectively ask ‘would you like to work today?’” Lim said.

If the panhandlers agreed, they would go in the van to the work-site without much screening, Lim said. These day jobs consisted of manual labor.

Lim noted these jobs paid between nine and 11 dollars per hour in their respective cities. The staff put their own work to the test, and conducted a survey of panhandlers in Madison.

“In Madison, strong indicators for need of panhandlers-specific programs were not identified based on the survey,” Lim said.

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Lim said the CDD staff concluded that such programs should not be implemented at this time, but perhaps in the future when there is more of a need.  

The staff provided recommendations for the Council if they were to decide to implement such programs, Lim said. These included targeting single, homeless individuals instead of those who are panhandling by creating a partnership with downtown Madison businesses.

Lim also recommended that the council focus on increasing resources for housing solutions to help end homelessness.