City considers property for permanent homeless housing

Alder: Bringing homeless into neighborhood might not be best thing
City considers property for permanent homeless housing
Proposed location for housing unit on Rethdke Avenue

To address Madison’s homeless issue, the city wants to build a sixty-unit complex of permanent apartments.

City officials are looking to build in the 700 block of Rethke Avenue right off East Washington Avenue near the Aloha Inn.

The lot is in Madison Alder David Ahrens’ district.

He said neighbors around the property have already dealt with significant drops in property values, and the area’s crime rate raises concerns for current residents and those who would move in.

Ahrens is mostly wondering, “Why there?”

“This is an area with a lot of challenges, and having homeless people come in might not be the best thing for it,” Ahrens said.

The city and members of Chicago-based developer Heartland Housing explained the plan to the community Wednesday night.

They said public transportation access and nearby amenities like community centers, health care and grocery stores were factored into their location selection.

“Our recommendation, any location, we wanted to make sure the people who live here are good neighbors, and that really comes down to having a good quality property manager and a good service provider to have people be stable in their house,” said Natalie Erdman with Community Development Authority.

This is the first phase in a $4 million plan with the bill being split between the city and the county.

The developers still need to apply for federal tax credits. The city Planning Commission still needs to approve the building, and funding has to get a final OK from the common council and the county board.

City developers said the earliest construction will start is 2015.