Salvation Army plans for $25 million homeless facility on Madison’s east side

Salvation Army plans for $25 million homeless facility on Madison’s east side

The Salvation Army of Dane County, located on E. Washington Avenue is working on plans to build a $25 million homeless facility on Madison’s east side.

The plans include a five-story building with an emergency shelter, transitional housing, a gym, auditorium, chapel, a playground, an apartment complex, mental health facilities, a dental facility, a medical facility, a multipurpose room, shelter bed spaces, laundry rooms, lounge spaces, office space and more.

The #SalvationArmyofDaneCounty revised its plans for a $25 million homeless facility to be built on #Madison‘s east side. The new five-story facility plans are raising concerns from neighbors who live in this area, saying safety concerns need to be met. #News3Now

— Jamie Perez (@JamiePerezTV) July 16, 2019

Salvation Army spokesperson Kaitlyn Novotny said :”The proposed site will be purpose-built with the intention of permanently housing families and individuals who are experiencing chronic homelessness. With spaces specifically designed to meet certain needs (i.e. mental health, medical and dental clinics, intensive case management, etc.) we are better able to serve as opposed to fitting people into a building not originally designed to meet those needs and simply making do.”

The plans face opposition from some community members, who have voiced their concerns to their alder, Patrick Heck.

Heck said, “There are bad behaviors, criminal behaviors, that are occurring in that parking lot, as well as violations of the Salvation Army’s own policies that are difficult for them to address because of it not being a purpose-built shelter, but they also seem to be understaffed.”

The Salvation Army said the community’s concerns are valid and that they “have been working with the neighborhood police and security consultants to address safety issues. Although the Salvation Army only has jurisdiction over its own property and not the surrounding neighborhood, the proposed site includes green and open spaces and lounge areas on the campus to accommodate the needs of those with nowhere else to go. A new layout is necessary to make these vital changes and meet these valid concerns.”

Heck said he does believe there is merit in the Salvation Army’s argument that “a purpose-built shelter can provide more security and better services, but that combined with an expansion is problematic. I think they have a lot to prove.”

Jared Hynum, a neighbor to the current facility who has lived in his home for three years, said he understands the concerns that have been raised because he has witnessed some issues firsthand.

“Just the other day, I witnessed, there was a fistfight out in the street that was pretty severe,” Hynum said.

Despite hearing neighbors’ concerns for the new plans, Hynum said the issues could be resolved “if they could just get staff to patrol the parking lot.”

With a larger facility, the Salvation Army does plan on increasing staff to aid in the services. However, Heck said community concerns are still prevalent because “many people do equate that to more problems.”

Novotny said the new facility will not only provide more services to meet the needs of low-income or homeless people, but it will also be able to provide these services to a greater number of those who need it. The current facility can accommodate 45 women and the new plans can accommodate 64. The current Emergency Family Shelter includes 22 rooms and the new plan can fit 41 rooms. The current facility does not have any medical respite but the new plan calls for 14 rooms specific to this purpose, as well as the addition of permanent on-site housing of 40-45 units. Novotny said all of this is subject to change, but the hope remains that they can “meet that need more efficiently and for more people.”

Hynum said these new amenities are “crucial to the homelessness problem and not just giving them a place to stay. The way I look at it is, homeless people need help, and they are going to be somewhere.”

Plans are still in the works and an informational presentation for the city’s Urban Design Commission will take place at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Heck said over the next several months, more meetings will be held for public input. A timeline for the project’s completion is preliminary until all approvals have been met.

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