Today, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced that Dane County has an accepted offer to purchase 1326 East Washington Avenue as the future site of a permanent Homeless Day Resource Center. The building was purchased for $1,425,000, is centrally located, and at 19,000 square feet offers space for a variety of needs for the homeless community.
“This day resource center will be a critical system to link for our community members who have fallen on hard times to community resources and to move people from homelessness or near homelessness to employment and permanent housing,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “This process has had its challenges. But I am proud to report that we will move forward to work to have the Day Resource Center up and running as quickly as possible.”
The Messner property is on a bus route and near the Yahara River Bike Path and the Capital City Bike Trail. The property is located approximately two miles from the Capitol Square, near services that include emergency overnight shelter for men, temporary and emergency overnight shelter for women and families, and the Madison Central Library. The site is less than a mile away from several free meal sites as well.
“This community has waited many years for a one-stop-shop containing critical services to help those in need,” said Parisi. “The County is eager to work with the neighborhood, community leaders, elected officials, and the City of Madison to gather input, address questions the community may have, and ultimately make a downtown day resource center a reality by October of 2016.”
Additional costs will be necessary to renovate the Messner property to operate as a day resource center. An estimate for those costs will be reached following a building inspection and engineering assessments.
A permanent day resource center is intended to be part of an overall system to link individuals to community resources and to move people as quickly as possible from homelessness or near homelessness to employment and permanent housing.
The day resource center is intended to include private offices and meeting rooms to allow providers to meet confidentially with individuals and families and connect them to or provide them with community services, including employment and training, permanent housing, economic assistance, legal services, health care, mental health services, alcohol and other drug addiction treatment, and more.
The facility is also intended to provide for basic needs that are critical to many individuals and families experiencing homelessness, such as private, accessible showers, storage space for personal items, laundry facilities, meals, space to stay cool or keep warm, and access to haircuts, a kitchen, and food storage. Other features we intend to include are access to telephones, a computer lab, a mail/message center, a day room, an outdoor area, areas for quiet resting, an area for families who may need to access services with their children, and more.
Dane County has been looking for a suitable site for a day shelter for several years. Locations beyond the downtown area on Wright Street, Lien Road and in the Town of Madison on Martin Street have all been thoroughly vetted. Locations closer to the city center have also been pursued, including the temporary day resource center location from three years ago at 857 East Washington Avenue, and more recently at the current Bellini Restaurant at the intersection of East Washington and South Hancock Street. In addition to these locations, Dane County has considered dozens of other sites but all were rejected based on a combination of location, cost, size or condition concerns.
With this accepted offer on the Messner property, Dane County will abandon its efforts to obtain a conditional use permit from the Town of Madison for use of the Martin Street location as a day resource center. The Town of Madison had previously denied the use of that property as a day resource center, claiming it was an incompatible use under their zoning code.
This offer will need to be approved by the Dane County Board and then obtain approval from Madison City Zoning before beginning architectural plans and renovation on the property.