East Towne Not the Right Location for a Shelter

There are a number of reasons I oppose this location for the permanent men’s shelter. First, the current plan calls for an overnight shelter only, with the addition of expanded services at some unidentified date in the future. The current day center is located at The Beacon which is 6 miles away from 2002 Zeier Rd. It will be tremendously burdensome and difficult for those experiencing homelessness to be expected to traverse this distance and I am concerned that those who are most needing the shelter will not have access.

Secondly, the city has not conducted any economic impact studies of this location or what the potential impact would be if we build a shelter here. The city’s Greater East Towne Area plan has never mentioned or included a permanent men’s shelter in this area. There has been significant interest from developers who are interested in helping make the Greater East Towne Area plan become a reality, however we are now hearing that the developers are looking to pull out of any developments if this shelter is located here. This is very concerning for the future economic revitalization of this area.

Third, the city has not provided an estimate on what the annual operating costs will be to operate a full-service shelter. They did say that the costs will be significantly higher than the current $500k annual budget and will likely result in a large budget gap. I was very surprised that the Finance Committee recommended to authorize the purchase since there are so many unanswered financial questions. 

I appreciate all the work the city staff have been doing with regards to finding locations for the permanent men’s shelter but also mapping out what the vision could be. However, all the comparable full-service shelters they have referenced as examples of how this can be successful are not really that comparable. Some of those references have spent upwards of $70M and they are also in well-established downtown locations. None of them have been launched in a currently depressed location like what we are seeing at East Towne.   The greater East Towne area has the potential to provide tens of millions of new dollars in tax base. This area could be a significant economic engine that can help fund the very services we are talking about providing for those experiencing homelessness.  But this area, as it currently exists, will be unable to absorb a permanent men’s shelter and it will result in further degradation and additional loss of tax base.

We need to take a pause to consider what our options are before we decide to spend $2.6M on this property. We are coming out of a global pandemic that has devastated our small businesses and has hit the East Towne area especially hard. We are facing an unprecedented budget crisis due to loss of tax revenue so I think it is prudent to pause this process so that we can re-evaluate what is best for the future of Madison as well as those experiencing homelessness. 

Tragic Shooting at the First Street Men’s Shelter

TO: Mayor, All Alders

This tragic shooting incident is extremely concerning for all involved and my thoughts and prayers are with everyone who was present at this traumatic event. It should give us pause to really consider if housing 200+ individuals in one location is the best approach to solving this challenge. As city leaders, we should at least consider what several, smaller locations that can focus on serving the individual needs, might look like. From my experience not only working with some of the men experiencing homelessness but also other individuals who face anxiety and sometimes suicidal thoughts is that building relationships and accountability is key to helping them get on the path toward healing and wholeness. 

I was down at the shelter last week meeting with Director Preston Patterson and his staff to learn more about how their operation is going. Preston has been the director for 12 years and stated that the last several months have been the most successful of all the years. I inquired as to why specifically and he stated that having the current First Street location, the extra room and easy access to the Beacon has allowed them to provide a better service to the residents. He also stated that he has been able to hire additional case workers which is critical to their success. The case workers are a connection point with the residents and help them apply for longer term housing as well as job opportunities. Preston has been asking for more case workers for a long time and he has finally started to get the funding needed to do this. Again this points to relationship building and how that is key to being successful.

I also asked him if there were security concerns. He stated that yes there is always some level of security concern which is why he and his staff are very diligent in knowing who is entering the facility as well as what their individual challenges are. Again this points to how critical relationship building is. If we want to be successful, we need to ensure the resources are available to facilitate this relationship building.

Preston also stated that the communication with the Beacon staff has been improving so that his staff are aware of any challenges that occurred during the day so they are better prepared for the overnight housing. I am very impressed with Preston’s ability to direct and manage this location and I have a recurring bi-weekly meeting with him and his staff because I believe it is critical that we fully understand the challenges he faces as well as what is working. There are a few dozen organizations that help serve those experiencing homelessness in one way or another, but the communication between these groups appears to be very lacking. We need to be looking at how we can improve this communication gap as it will help us ensure individuals are not falling through the cracks and actually are successfully transitioning to long term housing.  Creating a shared database of data points can help ensure stronger communication across all organizations. All of this is part of my extensive research on this issue because it is imperative we get this right from the get go.

I have been flooded with many communications from district 17 residents and businesses regarding this shooting. They are even more concerned about this move and are looking for answers. The reality is that the East Towne mall location is depressed and has been going downhill for some years. This location, however, is a prime location for a vibrant retail, entertainment, and affordable housing epicenter for not only Madison residents but also south-central Wisconsin residents. It is also the gateway entrance to the city. We have been revitalizing and improving many other sections of East Washington avenue for the last several years and it is critical that we focus on the East Towne area for its revitalization before it is too late. We also need to avoid causing those experiencing homelessness from feeling like they are being pitted against the neighborhoods, businesses and those interested in re-developing the East Towne area. 

I appreciate all the work the city staff have been doing with regards to finding locations for the permanent men’s shelter but also mapping out what the vision could be. However, all the comparable full-service shelters referenced as examples of how this can be successful are not really that comparable. Some of those references have spent upwards of $70M and they are also in well-established downtown locations. None of them have been launched in a currently depressed location like what we are seeing at East Towne. This area, as it currently exists, will be unable to absorb a permanent men’s shelter and it will result in further degradation and additional loss of tax base.

We must be successful in our pursuit of providing full-service facilities for men experiencing homelessness and in order to do this we must understand all of the dynamics involved, especially the cost of operation. According to the city planners, we have no estimates on what the operating costs for will be other than it will be significantly more expensive than the current $500k annual budget and will highly likely result in a budget gap. From a financial perspective, this is very concerning.

If we cannot accurately determine full costs and determine where these additional costs are going to come from, especially as we face an unprecedented budget crisis due the global pandemic, we are not setting ourselves up for success. 

I look forward to working diligently to find the best solution that will ensure those experiencing homelessness are able to achieve long term housing. I will also work diligently toward ensuring that the East Towne area, our gateway to the city, is a vibrant epicenter for affordable housing, entertainment, and shopping.

-Gary Halverson
Candidate for District 17 Alder

Become a Certified Master Recycler

The City of Madison Streets Division is proud announce the inaugural Master Recycler Program . The program was developed in close partnership with Sustain Dane, who will be administering the courses. Sustain Dane also obtained a grant from the Carton Council to make this program available.

Individuals who sign up to become a Master Recycler  will learn the intricacies of our local recycling program. You will learn not only how to be a better recycler at your home, but you will have the tools to go out and teach your family, neighbors, friends, and coworkers how to improve their recycling habits.

When will the classes take place?
There will be two opportunities to become a certified Master Recycler 2021 .

Each session will meet twice virtually at the dates and times below.

Session 1
Class 1: Wednesday, April 7, 12PM—1:30PM
Class 2: Wednesday, April 14, 12PM—1:30PM

Session 2
Class 1: Tuesday, July 13, 6:30PM—8:00PM
Class 2: Tuesday, July 20, 6:30PM—8:00PM

What do I have to do to become a Master Recycler ?
Certified Master Recyclers  must attend both classes of a session and complete an outreach project to share your recycling knowledge with your community.

Projects can take any number of forms. It could be guiding a recycling information meeting with your colleagues, or completing a project like setting up a recycling info station at your apartment, or other innovative ideas on how to help spread information on how to recycle more and recycle right.

Certified Master Recyclers  and their projects will be recognized at Sustain Dane’s annual Summit.

Is there a fee to attend a session?
The Sustain Dane tuition to become a Master Recycler is $15. If you are a Sustain Dane member or partner, your registration will be complementary. Full or partial scholarships are available from Sustain Dane.

Where to sign up?
You can register to become a Master Recycler at the Sustain Dane website .

More Information
Additional information about Sustain Dane can be found at their website, www.sustaindane.org .

Additional information about the City of Madison’s recycling program can be found at www.cityofmadison.com/recycling.


Celebrate International Women’s Day!

Last week, the Mayor and Madison’s Common Council passed a resolution to recognize today, March 8, as International Women’s Day. The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted both the centrality of women’s contributions as health care workers, caregivers, leaders and innovators, and the disproportionate burdens that women carry. This year, the United Nations has declared the theme as, “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.”

Please help us celebrate at #InternationalWomensDay #IWD2021 and read the full resolution below:

WHEREAS, the idea of International Women’s Day goes back to February 1909 in New York City where women socialists and suffragettes proclaimed a day of international solidarity with a prophetic focus on global women’s rights; and

WHEREAS, in 1910, one hundred women delegates from 17 countries advanced the idea as a means to continue promoting the rights of women, including suffrage – the right to vote; and

WHEREAS, the demand for women’s rights continued to grow, gain support, and shine a much-needed light on the poor conditions under which too many women live and work. In the 1960s, the ideal of women’s rights was taken up by a new generation of feminists who called for equal pay, equal economic opportunity, equal legal rights, reproductive rights, subsidized child care and the prevention of violence against women; and

WHEREAS, the United Nations began celebrating International Women’s Day in 1975, which was declared “International Women’s Year.” In 1977, the United Nations invited members to proclaim March 8 as the UN Day for Women’s Rights and World Peace, and International Women’s Day continues to be celebrated worldwide each year on March 8; and

WHEREAS, in this past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted women around the world. Women are disproportionately represented in frontline hospital and health care jobs and other high-risk and often low wage jobs. In additions, the virus has forced many women to leave their jobs to assume caretaking responsibilities for children and older adults, causing a dramatic reduction of women in the workforce, representing billions in lost wages and economic activity and necessitating more progressive work-family policies to advance gender equity and achieve economic growth; and

WHEREAS, women of color play a vital role in maintaining the economic stability of their families and communities, performing the essential work that keep families and communities afloat and are still paid, on average, less than men and white women. As COVID-19 has wreaked havoc around the globe, it has disproportionately impacted women of color, and understanding COVID-19’s impact on these women is critical to global public health and overcoming the current crisis; and

WHEREAS, the 2021 UN theme for International Women’s Day is “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world,” highlighting the heroic contributions of women and girls as health care workers, caregivers, innovators and community organizers during the COVID-19 pandemic; and

WHEREAS, local organizations including Africaide, University of Wisconsin 4W Women and Wellbeing Initiative, United Nations Association of the United States of America-Dane County Chapter, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Madison Alumnae Chapter, UW African Studies Program, Senegambia Women’s Association and Zonta Club of Madison will celebrate this day on Saturday, March 6, 2021, bringing together women in Madison and Wisconsin;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway and the Madison Common Council recognize and celebrate the critical contributions women, and especially women of color, are making around the world during in this historic pandemic year.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Mayor Rhodes-Conway and the Madison Common Council recognize the strength of every woman and believe that together we can fulfill the century-old vision of the International Women’s Day Founders to stand firmly together to build a better, more equitable and more peaceful world.

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that March 8, 2021 is declared International Women’s Day in the City of Madison, and all Madisonians are encouraged to recognize and celebrate International Women’s Day.

Originally posted on the Mayor’s Blog – https://www.cityofmadison.com/mayor/blog/celebrating-international-womens-day

Street Sweepers Working Overnight Hours Starting March 7

Spring cleanup begins! Starting the evening of March 7, 2021, Streets Division street sweepers will operating on Madison roadways 16-hours a day collecting the sand, salt, and other accumulated grit from the roads.

Sweepers will be working during the overnight hours while cleanup from winter is ongoing. One shift of operators will be sweeping from 10:00pm to 6:00am. And another shift of operators will be sweeping from 7:00am to 3:00pm. Crews will be working these hours for up to six weeks, depending on weather conditions.

Sweepers can only collect what they have access to along the curb.

Parked vehicles and collection carts in the street block sweepers from collecting the debris in the gutter. And it can be weeks until crews can rotate back to neighborhoods for another pass to collect the missed grit.

Remember to follow all posted parking restrictions, and please choose off-street parking options at night. Also, avoid placing your refuse and recycling carts in the street gutter for pickup.

As a reminder to all roadway users, street sweepers are very slow vehicles. When they are actively collecting debris, they move at a top speed of 5 MPH. If you encounter a street sweeper while traveling through the city, please be patient and give them plenty of space to do their work safely.

For more information about the Streets Division sweeping operations, go to www.cityofmadison.com/streets.

Housing Ordinance Changes Community Meeting Mar 1

There will be a Community Q & A Session on Monday, March 1, 5:30pm -7:30pm, regarding the proposed Zoning Ordinance amendments related to allowing greater residential densities and adjusting conditional use thresholds, Legistar #63902. There will be a video presentation to provide an overview, and Planning Division Director Heather Stouder and Zoning Administrator Matt Tucker will be available for questions.

Register for the session at Housing Ordinance Changes – Overview and Community Q & A (registration is required in order to attend) https://cityofmadison.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJMuceitrzkjGtUL_ERMyOEBgGskfLoWNm3s

Read the proposed amendments here

Read the Staff Report/Memo here
https://madison.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=F&ID=9202147&GUID=EDE0E7CD-D7EC-4958-8869-E8C75ED7C1C5 View the staff overview video presentation here https://media.cityofmadison.com/Mediasite/Play/dde288392cf049bfac753e48621fe8bf1d

View slides of the staff overview presentation here

Please feel free to share this information with others who might be interested. If you’re unable to attend on March 1, the meeting will be recorded and available for later viewing as well.

Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce Endorses Gary Halverson

“At this challenging and critical moment, we need leadership on the Madison Common Council with a commitment to inclusive economic growth and the collaborative experience to get it done,” said Chamber President Zach Brandon. “The alignment of business and labor in this election highlights that there are clear choices to help lead Madison through this pandemic and accelerate our economic recovery.”

Dane CORE Program will begin accepting pre-applications starting Feb 17

Desplácese hacia abajo para español.

Hello Neighbors, here is a message from the Tenant Resource Center

Approximately $15 million of federal funds in direct rental assistance is being provided by the City of Madison and Dane County. The Tenant Resource Center (TRC) will, once again, be facilitating a large-scale, community-wide emergency rental assistance effort. These funds are significantly different than the funds provided by the CARES Act in the summer of 2020 as they come with numerous requirements of income verification (per HUD 24 CFR 5.609) as determined by the US Department of Treasury. Receiving these funds does not affect citizenship status as they are not weighed in determination of public charge. There are no restrictions around receiving these funds based on immigration status. The TRC does not ask for or collect any information about immigration status.

We know this will be a challenge to many renters but we are here to help! We will be scheduling multiple 1-hour training sessions (Register by clicking on the date link — Feb 19, 2021, 1:00 pm, Feb 23, 2021, 11:00 am, and Feb 25, 2021, 1:00 pm) for service providers who are interested in better understanding the Dane CORE application system and process. We will also be updating the Dane CORE website beginning next week with locations/dates/times that we will be providing in-person application support for community members. We will be scheduling appointments at those locations and adhere to ALL public health safety measures. We will require those that we are assisting to adhere to all public health safety measures as well.

The Dane CORE Pre-Application is an Online system that Tenant (renters) and Property owners (landlords or agents) can access to pre-apply for rental assistance funds for up to 12 months of back-owed rent that has been accrued since March 12, 2020.

We anticipate thousands of pre-applications being submitted in the coming weeks. BOTH tenants and landlords are required to submit documents as a requirement of these federal funds. The TRC has no control over the required documents and therefore cannot waive these requirements. 

TRC cannot guarantee that a pre-application will be authorized for payment but tenants and landlords will receive email updates  1) when they submit a pre-application for processing, 2) if there is any additional information needed for processing, 3) (if authorized) when a payment is being sent on behalf the tenant to the landlord and/or 4) if the application is ineligible for payment.

Payment processing will occur once a week and will begin the last week of February.

Please see the attachments for additional information about how to apply, the eligibility criteria, and the required documents.

Take care, Tenant Resource Center

Hola vecinos, aquí hay un mensaje del Tenant Resource Center,

La Cuidad de Madison y el Condado de Dane anunciaron recientemente la disponibilidad de hasta $16 millones de dólares para asistencia de emergencia para el pago de alquiler de parte del gobierno federal que serán usados para ayudar con los pagos de los alquileres atrasados. Además, el Presidente Biden extendió la moratoria federal de desalojos hasta el 31 de Marzo. Estos fondos de emergencia son esenciales para nuestra comunidad y reconocemos lo necesario que es repartirlos lo más rápido posible para ayudar tanto a los inquilinos que tiene dificultades como a los propietarios. Para lograr cumplir con la demanda anticipada de estos fondos, tanto la Ciudad como el Condado están trabajando con el Centro de Recursos para Inquilinos (Tenant Resource Center) para abrir solicitudes para asistencia de emergencia para el pago de alquiler la semana del 15 de Febrero.

Nuestra prioridad es asegurar que los miembros de la comunidad se mantengan albergados bajo condiciones seguras. Le estamos solicitando a los propietarios de viviendas que trabajen con nosotros durante este tiempo para cumplir ese propósito. Nosotros sabemos que estos fondos no serán suficientes para satisfacer todas las necesidades de nuestra comunidad pero anticipamos que se nos facilitarán fondos adicionales para continuar ampliando el programa para cubrir el déficit masivo de alquileres. Nosotros pediremos en intercambio por proporcionar los alquileres atrasados permitidos para inquilinos elegibles, que se hagan arreglos para que esos inquilinos no sean desplazados. Todos necesitamos trabajar juntos como comunidad para asegurar que podamos estabilizar hogares a medida que todos “Reconstruimos Algo Mejor” a lo largo de esta pandemia.


Celebrate Black History Month with Madison Public Library

February is Black History Month, an annual celebration of the achievements by African Americans and a time to honor the central role of black Americans in U.S. history and beyond.

Visit the Madison Public Library’s dedicated page to events around Madison this month! Many of the events are virtual so you can safely attend!