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Tree Lane Apartments

The Finance Committee supported Monday appropriating $275,250 to the Tree Lane Apartments to increase support services and youth programming.

Seeking to increase the help available to formerly homeless families at a troubled Far West Side apartment building, Madison’s Finance Committee recommended Monday spending $275,250 from the city’s reserve fund to provide more robust support services there.

Committee members voted unanimously to use the money to improve social supports for the formerly homeless families who live at Tree Lane Apartments, which is operated by Chicago-based Heartland Housing. The funds would be given to homeless services provider The Road Home Dane County for case management work and Lussier Community Education Center and Wisconsin Youth Company for youth programming.

The $11.7 million, 45-unit building at 7933 Tree Lane opened in June but began experiencing a high volume of calls for police service, including gunfire, fights and the arrest of a person for an attempted homicide that happened elsewhere.

Contracts with the three organizations would be on an interim basis until the city can put out a request for proposals to provide those services, with the intent of signing a long-term contract this fall.

Separately, the city is also pursuing a chronic nuisance action against Heartland due to a high number of police calls to the property, in order to get Heartland to create an abatement plan. Tree Lane Apartments follows the Housing First model in which chronically homeless people are admitted as tenants with few or no conditions and support services are voluntary.

The budget for support services started at $165,000, but YWCA Madison, which has been providing those services, will leave the property March 15.

Vanessa McDowell, CEO of YWCA Madison, said the organization did not have the money to provide services at the building, which is home to more than 100 children.

“Going forward at Tree Lane, people need support. They don’t need to be policed,” McDowell said.

The city estimates the money for additional support services would have an annualized cost of $429,500 if the increased level of help continues in future years.

Last month, the Finance Committee backed a related plan to spend $165,000 for additional security at the building. The two proposals combined seek $440,250 to improve the environment at Tree Lane.

The extra security funding would allow two security guards to be on the property during nights and weekends. Both the funding of support services and extra security will be on the agenda for the City Council meeting on Feb. 26.

If both are approved, Madison’s contingent reserve fund would stand at $1,489,500.

The committee also backed sending $115,000 slated for case management work for Southeast Asian seniors to a competitive request for proposals process instead of directly allocating it to Anesis Therapy after community members raised concerns about transparency and whether Anesis could meet the needs of residents.

In other action, the Finance Committee recommended:

  • Paying a $77,284.43 refund to the property owner of Hub Madison, 437 N. Frances St., after the city reached a settlement on a lawsuit alleging the Downtown apartment building had an excessively high property assessment.
  • Approving four-year contracts with the unions representing the Madison Police Department and Fire Department.

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