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Tuesday, May 21, 2024
County plans to invest thousands of dollars in homeless initiatives

: Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk and other county officials want to invest money in helping the growing homeless population in the area.

County plans to invest thousands of dollars in homeless initiatives

Dane County officials announced Monday their plans for a series of initiatives targeted to curb increasing problems facing the area's homeless population. 

The 2008 Dane County Budget allocates $147,500 for the new initiatives, which include a job assistance program and developing and operating a year-round shelter.  


In Dane County, we spend about $3 million a year on homelessness and affordable housing issues, but despite that there still is need,"" said Kathleen Falk, Dane County Executive. ""We have added more dollars in the budget for additional services for next year.""  


Falk said what excites her the most about the initiative is a first time expenditure of $50,000 to hire staff that will assist the homeless in finding jobs.  


""It's a priority for the County Board Chairman [Scott McDonell] and I to help people get back on their feet as quickly as possible and out of the cycle of homelessness. A job is the best way to do that,"" Falk said. 


While there is no current service provider in place, Falk said interested agencies can contact them with ideas on how to spend the money that coincides with their overarching goals, and the best applicant will be chosen. No start date is set for the program, but Falk said as soon as they find interested agencies, the project will get rolling. 

Along with the job placement program, $97,500 is in place to operate a year-round homeless shelter and expand the size of the current program. Major Paul Moore, Dane County coordinator of the Salvation Army, stressed the need for this initiative. 


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""The demand for help is much greater than the supply,"" he said. ""This is a way to try and keep families from freezing to death in their cars and on the street.""  


Currently, 60 families are on the waiting list for housing, Moore said. Various shelters in Dane County only have room to house a total of 35 families a night, he added. The two biggest complications facing the shelters are space and money, both of which the initiatives address. 


The Salvation Army currently hosts a warming shelter in the winter months, the beginning of November to the end of March, which allows 14 additional spaces for families over night. Moore said it is impossible to expand this to a full year under their current facility due to space and budget constraints, and the initiatives will assist in extending this program. 


The Salvation Army is looking for a facility to expand on its current location, and Falk urges churches or community centers interested to contact the Salvation Army.

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