Tree Lane Apartments

Since Tree Lane Apartments opened in June 2018, the permanent supportive housing complex for formerly homeless families on the city’s far west side has drawn frequent police calls for service.

After refusing last week to support funding for additional security services at a challenged west side apartment complex, the Madison City Council on Tuesday authorized spending $145,000 for a front desk staff person instead of a second security officer.

Ald. Keith Furman, District 19, offered the alternate proposal. He said funding the staff position that would be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week would assist the security officer by monitoring the front entrance of Tree Lane Apartments at all times.

“These are people’s homes,” Furman said. “What we really don’t want to do is turn the place into a prison. It’s helpful to have a second individual there to support the residents and the security guard.”

Heartland Housing, owner and property manager of the supportive housing facility for formerly homeless families, is funding the on-site security officer.

The front desk employee would need to be trained in trauma-informed and conflict de-escalation practices, according to the resolution. Staff filling the position would be located at the building’s front entrance at all times to monitor access to the building and enforce established guest policies.

Tree Lane Apartments, which opened in June 2018, has drawn frequent calls for police service.

To temporarily address problems at the $11.7 million, four-story, 45-unit apartment complex, Mayor Paul Soglin proposed $165,000 for a second security officer. The City Council voted 12-7 in favor of the proposal Feb. 26, which fell short of the 15 votes required to amend the budget.

On Tuesday, the City Council adopted the staffing resolution on a 16-0 vote. Alds. Barbara Harrington McKinney, District 1; Arvina Martin, District 11; and Sheri Carter, District 14, were absent. The District 3 seat is currently vacant.

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Ald. Paul Skidmore, District 9, has advocated for additional armed security at Tree Lane Apartments. Though he feels a second security officer is needed, he ultimately supported the resolution Tuesday.

“This will assist and help protect the individuals in the building and in the neighborhood,” Skidmore said. “It is a positive step.”

At its meeting last week, the City Council also authorized $275,250 for more case management support services at the apartment complex. YWCA has provided services at the property but is leaving in mid-March.

Under the resolution, the Road Home, Lussier Community Education Center and Wisconsin Youth Company-Elver Park Neighborhood Center would provide interim case management services and youth programming at Tree Lane.

In other steps to stabilize the property, the city initiated a chronic nuisance action Heartland Housing last month. At the end of 2018, Soglin created a team to address challenges at Tree Lane Apartments.

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