Alder Gary Halverson
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
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Alder Halverson’s Updates
Surprise Announcement on Permanent Men's Shelter Location
Today the mayor announced a new location of the permanent men's shelter, 1902 Bartillon Dr. I found out about this at the same time everyone else did, at the press conference. This is the third time the mayor has surprised District 17 with yet another proposed location for a permanent men's shelter without any public input.
I am disappointed that throughout this process of searching for a permanent location for our men's shelter, the voices of the homeless community have been largely dismissed. We have heard repeatedly from current and former homeless individuals that this community gravitates to the downtown area where they have had support from many organizations. We have repeatedly heard that locations out near the edge of the city are not preferred and would add additional burdens to this community.
We have also heard from the dedicated men and women working with this community everyday who have said the temporary shelter located at 1st street has allowed them to be the most successful in achieving their goals of helping this community get on the path toward long term housing. This location was close to where the homeless community is most active as well as close to other organizations who are also a critical part of the support system. In addition, we heard that the additional funding provided through federal grants as part of the recovery acts have been a game changer. This additional funding allowed the hiring of more staff to work one on one with each individual experiencing homelessness to ensure their individual needs are being addressed. This relationship building is critical to helping these individuals on their path to long term housing.
Despite knowing all of this, the mayor continued to push for locating the permanent shelter in District 17, on the edge of the city. In fact, all the locations that the mayor has supported throughout this search process have been in District 17. She has repeatedly attempted to push locations in District 17 without any District 17 community or Alder input. East Towne Blvd location, Zeier Rd location and now Bartillon Rd all were initially announced with zero input from the community. Considering this is a 50+ year decision, I am very disappointed in the mayor's attempt to force locations that are not in the best interest of the homeless community.
I have continued to push for this permanent location to be centralized and close to the community it is intended to serve. I have concerns about this location, including the distance from downtown where this community is and the challenges that will bring regarding transportation, the proximity to businesses that primarily serve women, and the cost that will be involved to prepare this site and the cost for new construction.
Although I believe this council has the will to ensure that a purpose-built men's shelter sees completion, I am concerned that the decision on this location will prove challenging to the success in serving this community in the years to come.
The pandemic revealed what many of us already knew, that the city's role in providing support to our homeless community was inadequate. We owe a debt of gratitude to our downtown churches and local non-profit organizations who ensured this community was taken care of with minimal support from us for the last three decades.
Note: 1902 Bartillon Dr as of Jan 2022 is part of District 12 yet also part of the Sandburg Neighborhood which is in District 17.
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