Consistent disturbances at Tree Lane Family Apartments have caused the city of Madison to file a chronic nuisance action against Heartland Housing, the development company responsible for the complex.

Tree Lane Family Apartments first opened in June 2018 and currently functions as a supportive living facility for previously homeless families, according to the Cap Times.

The formal action comes in response to several constituent complaints and police calls.

The city proposed an increase of $275,250 in support services for the families living at Tree Lane with hopes that more support will help reduce conflicts on the property.

Sarah Ceponis, Director of Community Impact at United Way of Dane County, said Tree Lane takes a “housing first” approach to assisting the homeless.

“Housing first” is based on the idea that people need food and shelter before addressing other factors that may have contributed to their homelessness, Ceponis said.

Ceponis cited an 80 percent or higher success rate for the “housing first” model employed by Tree Lane and other local supportive living facilities, meaning that families helped by the system are likely to not experience homelessness again.

“[The housing first model] ensures families can quickly gain access to housing and from there address barriers and work towards stability,” Ceponis said.

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Using this model, people may be able to keep their supportive housing, but Tree Lane had the most calls for service of any property in the West District of Madison for the months of July, August and September, according to the Cap Times.

Another Heartland development, Rethke Terrace has faced similar issues and raised concern about the amount of money allocated toward supportive services, another reason for the city’s demand for funding their chronic nuisance action against the company.

Despite the Heartland development’s impending abatement, problems occurring at both current supportive housing sites and a recurring need for maintenance, a third supportive housing site has been proposed for construction on Park Street.

James O’Keefe, Director of the City of Madison Department of Community Development, said Heartland has secured tax credits to finance the largest part of the proposed Park Street housing.

The project still faces obstacles before it can become reality, some of which may be insurmountable, O’Keefe said.

“[Tax] credits place obligations on the developer to complete the project within a specified period of time,” O’Keefe said.

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O’Keefe said Heartland was awarded the credits over a year ago and has roughly two to two and a half years left to build the housing on Park Street but has yet to receive a land use approval from the city.

Not having the land use approval compromises Heartland’s ability to get the project done on time and, with doubts on the quality of their current supportive measures looming over the company, the city is unlikely to extend their approval, O’Keefe said.

“ … until Heartland can convince decision makers that it is able to provide the support services to the building’s residents that are needed to make the project successful, [land use approvals are unlikely to be granted],” O’Keefe said.

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If Heartland is able to complete their proposed third housing site, Ceponis said that service providers for the Park Street living facility could apply for funding through United Way.

For now, the city is focusing its efforts on providing more support at Heartland’s existing housing sites, especially Tree Lane.

According to the Cap Times, the city’s finance committee recently approved a measure requesting an additional $165,000 in more security measures for Tree Lane.

Heartland must make a plan on how it intends to resolve the problems faced by Tree Lane and present it to the city within 15 days. If Heartland fails to do so, they could face fines between $1,000 and $5,000 and the city could bill the company for police time, according to the Cap Times.