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Thursday, June 30, 2022

City of Madison’s new homeless shelter shows success at housing the city’s homeless population

The city’s new homeless shelter encampment exceeds expectations and has had minimal police supervision, and pavillion and library plans unveiled for “Imagination Center” at Reindahl Park

Only two months after being established, Madison’s first legal homeless shelter encampment on 3203 Dairy Drive has seen success in housing the homeless this winter season.

The encampment, which was completed in November, consists of 30 small shelters on a 1.8 acre site. Each shelter has electricity along with a heater, refrigerator, fold-up beds and windows, according to the Wisconsin State Journal

According to MACH OneHealth Executive Director Brenda Konkel, as of Jan. 28, there are 27 people currently living in the shelter with two more set to move in soon. Although some residents have reported issues such as drafts and cold floors, Konkel believes the project has been a success. 

“I’m super pleased the model seems to work,” Konkel said. “There have been surprises here and there but nothing insurmountable.”

The shelter is receiving support from the Madison community, with organizations such as Friends of the State Street Family providing over 1,500 meals. The Madison Fire Department is allowing one of their station’s community rooms for resident meetings. 

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Madison used Reindahl Park as a temporary camping ground for the homeless. In December, the city prohibited people from living in Reindahl Park as the number of homeless people exceeded the amount that the park could handle. 

In addition to the homeless shelter on Dairy Drive, the city now offers 35 rooms in the Madison Plaza Hotel as a housing option for homeless people. 

Also, the Madison Police Department has had minimal intervention at the shelter. 

The City of Madison recently unveiled a new pavilion and library at Reindahl Park called the “Imagination Center” which is where the old homeless shelter used to be.

The Imagination Center would cost 16 million dollars to build and operate. The city council would have to approve of the budget before anything gets built. The council is said to make a final decision on Feb. 1. 

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