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County picks site for day shelter

County picks site for day shelter

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A South Side resource center already serving some of Dane County’s homeless residents would be the site of a long-awaited day shelter under plans announced Thursday.

Porchlight, a homeless services organization, has accepted the county’s offer to buy its Hospitality House at 1490 Martin St. for $330,000, County Executive Joe Parisi said.

If the purchase is approved by the Dane County Board and Porchlight’s executive board, the day shelter could start serving the homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless by November, Parisi said.

The shelter would offer services to help people find housing and jobs, as well as counseling, case management and resources for avoiding eviction, officials said.

It also would provide more basic help such as warming and cooling in the winter and summer, and places for people to shower and store their belongings, Parisi said.

“We want this to be as much of a one-stop shop as possible,” Parisi said at a news conference Thursday morning with county officials and homeless advocates. “We can help them get connected to the services they need to get back on their feet.”

The county would pay to purchase the facility, and cover operating costs through a partnership with the City of Madison and local organizations.

Downtown Madison Inc. will contribute $75,000 to renovate the space, officials said.

The city and United Way of Dane County have pledged $50,000 apiece to help pay the center’s operating costs in 2014. County officials estimate it will cost $300,000 each year.

The center will be managed by the homeless services organization Shine608, whose leadership managed a temporary day center on East Washington Avenue last year.

Local organizations and government agencies in Dane County already pay millions of dollars each year to help thousands of homeless residents and people at risk of becoming homeless, United Way President Leslie Ann Howard said.

Services like those the day shelter would provide could “tip the scales” and keep people off the streets, Howard said.

“This is going to help more families, and others, actually avoid temporary shelter and avoid homelessness altogether,” she said. “That’s really our goal.”

County officials had considered a number of other possible locations for the day shelter, including the Madison Area Rehabilitation Center site on the Far East Side, but Parisi said Hospitality House was much close to Downtown, where overnight shelters are located and many homeless people spent time during the day.

It also helps that Porchlight already offers some of the services the county would provide there, he said.

“It will be a similar use — it will just be an expansion,” Parisi said.

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