What are you going to do to help the homeless?
Greetings Assistant Iheukumere,
I bring to your attention a time sensitive issue certainly of importance to Mayor Soglin, and so many others. A plan must be in place before the cold weather sets in. Lives depend upon it as does the good name of our City.
Over the years a great many who live homeless in Madison have found daily shelter in either the basement of the State Capitol, or the Public Library on W. MIfflin St. As it currently stands soon neither will be available. Word from the State is that there are no plans to reopen the basement of the State Capitol to the public, and the downtown Public Library at its current location on Mifflin will close in October for approximately two years. The library’s temporary location will offer very limit seating and space.
The consequence of these two factors is to cast out many of our neighbors to the dangers and sufferings of winter. Other services that traditionally offer limited indoor space are not equipped or available for significant influx. The nearest public libraries of ample size are Hawthorne on E. Washington Ave., and Goodman on S. Park St., both around 3 miles from downtown. Free bus tickets are very difficult to come by for this population, as are good health, good winter boots/coats and physical strength. Within this population there are many who have physical disabilities, and mostly everyone carries packs and bundles that further burden navigation. Add extreme weather, ice, snow and freezing temperatures to the challenge and a walk beyond the downtown becomes a seriously threatening if not prohibitive option. Very important to remember as well is that without allowable, accessible facilities which include restrooms, folks are forced to meet basic needs in other ways – year round.
The situation is potentially dire. Headlines about the number of frozen dead and maimed in the streets of Madison are not unimaginable, and exceptionally high demands on City services are very likely. Does Mayor Soglin wish to proceed with urgency and creativity toward a solution? Might he be willing to meet soon with representatives from the Homeless Services Consortium, the downtown faith based community and the Greater Isthmus Group, the United Way, individuals living homelessness, CNI, MATC, UW, Downtown Madison, Inc., Savory Sundays, and others? How can the Mayor’s office help identify available spaces or existing services that can effectively and respectfully accommodate this community in need?
Kindly lead us in the fulfillment of our obligation to the most vulnerable of our neighbors, and help us embrace this challenge as an opportunity to find a resolution of excellence.
Executive Director, Madison Homelessness Initiative
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