As another frigid Madison winter approaches, the homeless community is once again burdened by the logistics of local shelter resources.
Porchlight, Madison’s men’s homeless shelter, can serve approximately 175 men each night, according to its website. However, beneficiary Mark Sperry said he doubts they have 100 beds to offer across their three locations.
Porchlight’s website claims the organization offers more than just emergency services, with approximately 300 units for homeless families and individuals through its more permanent affordable housing program.
However, the sum of the units offered across seven different programs puts the available units closer to 169. Affordable housing is designed to meet the specific needs of applicants, offering accommodations ranging from family housing and veteran assistance to “transitional housing” for individuals suffering with alcoholism or mental health issues,
Residency at certain sites also requires participation in intervention services and life skills training.
The single room occupancy units on Broom Street, for which Sperry has been on the waiting list twice, requires applicants to provide proof of permanent employment of at least 20 hours per week.
Sperry said he was never placed in housing because the first time, although he was working full-time hours, his official employment with a temp agency was not considered “permanent.”
His current occupation with Street Pulse, Madison’s homeless cooperative newspaper, also does not suffice, but Sperry said they give good references.
The stipulations make it hard for many homeless individuals who can only find minimal or temporary work, according to Sperry. Even if an individual fulfills the employment stipulation, Sperry said it is not uncommon for someone to spend years on the waiting list to be placed in housing.
“Everybody I’ve talked to that’s on it, they take forever,” Sperry said. He referenced a friend of his who has been waiting for housing placement for nearly three years.
As the 2015 city and county budget discussions dominate their respective offices until final approval is sought early next month, many are hoping for increased funding toward homeless outreach and aid.