Recommendations for a permanent day resource center for the homeless were discussed, with many people speaking in favor of a new facility, and also moving ahead quickly to find a new location.
Former Madison alderperson Brenda Konkel said she appreciated the current warming center on East Washington Avenue in Madison but hopes a new center can be opened sooner than later.
“I really hope we can do something to get something open before Nov. 1,” she said. “It just seems like that is a long time for people not to be getting the resources they need to get off the street before next winter. I’m hoping we can do better than that.”
Mike Basford, chairman of the Dane County Homeless Issues Committee, reported on the group’s three-month study on the homeless issue in the county, emphasizing the need for day resources in the county for the homeless population.
“We don’t want a place of warehousing of people,” he said. “This is a place people are going to use to help homeless people achieve and secure permanent housing. That is the ultimate goal of this and anything the committee is doing. Permanent housing (with) showers to get themselves clean, facilities to do laundry so you’re not wearing the same clothing day and day out, and storage space so they have some place to keep their belongings, so they don’t have to haul all their belongings, especially to a job interview.”
Tim Satterfield from the Office of the Dane County Board, who has taken up a lot of recent work on the homeless issue for the county, said progress has been made between city and county officials on finding a permanent day center. He said the goal is to move people “as quickly as possible from homelessness to find permanent housing.”
“When you look at what some other cities are doing… it’s really not just a place for people to hang out and stay warm, but a place where they can access services, clean up, store personal belongings, access medical care,” he said. “That’s really what its all about, providing for a range of serve to help people, With the goal of getting them in some permanent housing.”
District 3 Supervisor Nick Zweifel of Sun Prairie, a member of the county’s Homeless Issues Committee, said he’s excited about what the committee has come up with.
“The report we offered is the first step as we continue to work towards getting a permanent homeless day center open,” he said. “We spent a lot of time researching what successes other cities and communities have had with their day centers. We also have learned a lot from the warming day center we have open now on East Washington.”
Zweifel said the county will be more efficient in the future at linking the homeless population with service providers to more efficiently help their needs.
He offered an example: “A homeless person will be able to stop in, check their email, make a phone call, take a shower, store their belongings and then head to a job interview freshly bathed and wearing clean clothes. Being able to provide all this is predicated on our main goal of helping our homeless get back on their feet so that they can secure jobs and permanent housing.”
The next step for county officials is siting a location, Zweifel said.
“ Our real estate department is currently looking for a building that will work,” he said.
Supervisors accepted a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) lake planning grant for $3,000. The funds would be used to better understand the economic impact of water recreation usage in the county.
The board authorized accepting a $20,110 grant for the Dane Count Fire Department Hazardous Materials refresher training from Wisconsin Emergency Management. The board voted to accept a Homeland Security Communications Advance Team Equipment Grant for $8,000 to assist re-establishing or delivering early communications in the event of “catastrophic events.”
UW Hospital and Clinics gets contract
The board awarded a 2013 contract with UW Hospital and Clinics – not to exceed $520,438 – for providing inpatient care for those with mental illness, comprehensive alcohol and drug screening and assessment and intervention and referral services for Dane County youth under the age of 18. Supervisors also approved awarding a University of Wisconsin Medical Foundation Professional Service contract for 2013 for Badger Prairie Health Care center to provide physician and medical director services for $109,650.