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Madison picks operators for its first homeless encampment on Southeast Side
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Madison picks operators for its first homeless encampment on Southeast Side

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City homeless campground  - aerial view

Madison has chosen operators for the city’s first sanctioned encampment for the homeless taking shape on a 1.8-acre site at 3202 Dairy Drive on the Southeast Side.

Madison has picked two operators to run the city’s first sanctioned homeless encampment now taking shape on a remote industrial site on the Southeast Side.

The city chose Madison Area Care for the Homeless (MACH) OneHealth and Kabba Recovery Services as operators for the encampment at 3202 Dairy Drive, which will include 30 tiny climate-controlled shelters as an alternative to the large, unsafe encampment at Reindahl Park near East Towne.

The new encampment will also feature a central building with office space, showers and restroom facilities for campground users, and the operators will provide on-site services including support for housing searches, mental health wellness and addiction recovery.

“The city has been working hard to provide shelter options to some of our most vulnerable residents as winter approaches by creating a new shelter campground,” Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said in a statement. “I am grateful that the city has the financial support of the American Rescue Plan Act to implement this project.”

MACH OneHealth, with staff including social workers and counselors, has volunteer doctors, nurses, medical professionals and others who regularly provide basic medical help and other services at The Beacon homeless day resource center, 615 E. Washington Ave., and a temporary homeless men’s shelter at 200 N. First St.

Kabba Recovery Services is a multicultural state-licensed outpatient treatment center skilled in providing outreach, education and treatment to clients and the greater community.

“We are determined to make the best of this location and ensure that we provide people with a positive, healthier experience,” said Dr. Pam Alsum, president of MACH OneHealth. “MACH OneHealth volunteers and staff know that many in this community — ourselves, our friends, our family members, our neighbors — through some unfortunate circumstances, could need to live without a house and home, as did the people who will be dwelling in this shelter community.”

In roughly eight weeks, the city has graded the site, brought in a small building and remodeled it with an office and bathrooms, and erected streetlights and electrical hookups to serve the 30 tiny shelters. A 6-foot chain-link fence with vinyl privacy slats encircles the site.

At the end of the month, a private company will deliver the prefabricated shelters. Once assembled, each will be connected to electric service and come equipped with beds, heaters, air conditioners and mini refrigerators. The city will also create an asphalt fire lane down the center of the site. Landscaping will follow.

Ald. Jael Currie, 16th District, who represents the area, said she has been meeting with city staff as well as area residents and area business owners as planning and construction has proceeded.

“I am pleased and want to thank MACH OneHealth for stepping up to provide additional support services for residents experiencing unsheltered homelessness in our community,” Currie said. “I’d like to thank the multitude of city staff who have been working around the clock on this issue and development. I now look forward to continuing working with Community Development Division staff and establishing working relationships with MACH OneHealth staff to ensure we are able to open the site to occupancy as soon as possible.”

One of the first tasks on which MACH One will focus is to develop an operational plan for the campground and begin the process of determining those who will be asked to move from Reindahl Park to Dairy Dive. The site is expected to be available for move-in beginning the week of November 15.

The city estimates the camp will cost roughly $900,000 in initial costs and $75,000 monthly for operations.

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