They are looking at a November 1 opening date. I found out this, and much more at the Homeless Issues Workgroup meeting yesterday.
People were in and out but the people in attendance were County Board Supervisor Heidi Wegleitner, chair of the committee Michael Basford, Uly Williams, Alder Bridget Maniaci, County Board Supervisor Leland Pan, Alder Larry Palm, and United Way representative Deedra Atkinson.
DISCUSSION ON PERMANENT DAY CENTER
There was a hand out that was given out, see next section for the info (sorry, scanner not working this morning) The group talked about the timeline and if they should do an RFI to find a site. They mentioned that Bethel Church might be an option at some point. They also talked about other potential locations, but most were not really options. They wanted more info on the locations the county has looked at but there wasn’t much in terms of details. Many Isthmus properties are being held up by the Mullins’ who won’t sell. Wright Street is the only county owned property that would work. If Salvation Army moves to Darbo it might be an option, however Salvation Army is interested in selling for profit to a developer. Atkinson from United Way asks why downtown, why not closer to jobs. The committee members explain there are jobs downtown for many and easier access to transportation, shelter and services. They talk about leasing as an option but the funds are for purchase and leasing would require an amendment and change from capital funds to operating funds.
There was quite a bit of talk about what are they going to do about the operating funds. The funds to run the place was not passed by the county board. They said it costs $8,000 a month plus rent. They mention that the current funding is not sustainable. They realize they can’t do what is on the list for that price. There was $75K for 6 months proposed for the budget and that is more in the ballpark. They decide to put a reminder in the report that they need operating funds.
They talk about needing to have a third party complaint system, making sure the operator is educated in trauma informed care and harm reduction that there there are no permanent bans. They also talk about the need for a fair grievance process.
Of course, issues with the shelters came up – this time was about Salvation Army. Atkinson from the United Way talks about applying pressure through their funding sources. Weglietner says she has been meeting with county staff and the city (elected officials) to try to start addressing the issues with the shelters.
Palm asks about plan to store items that they have amassed. Lynn Green, Director of Human Services for Dane County says it is all county property and they can store it back where it came from. (Really? I don’t think so . . . )
Atkinson says this is a temporary day facility for the issues they talked about but long term there needs to be permanent housing and this is just a stop gap measure. (Sing it sister! Many of us advocates have been screaming that we need affordable housing from the rooftops since 1997! But not much progress has been made . . . ) She says the facility is temporary. Wegleitner says it is permanent, she also wants homelessness ended, but even if housing for everyone in the community is miraculously found, there are still people in transition that will need services of a day resource center. They reiterate it should be a day resource center – not a shelter. Basford says that this is supposed to be as much access to and easy access to get people out of homelessness. They also add jobs to list of recommended services.
They talk about if the items on the list are “must have” or items that can be added later or are just nice items to have. Most items are in first section are must have. Bed bug treatment room is optional, very expensive, might need an operational plan instead. Kitchen and food storage required. All the rest is a must. They make it clear that they might need to add laundry and showers after they find a location. They agree they need outdoor space for smoking and to get fresh air and get away from the noise. Services don’t need to be provided by the operator, they just want space for the services, they need confidential areas. They talk about private spaces and places to rest for people who work late nights.
Lynn Green asks about a 24/7 center. They agree it should be – and in some places that is a response to the cold weather. They point out they 24/7 centers exist in Rockford, Milwaukee, LaCrosse and Green Bay. They point out they need more operating money for that. They say that it might not be 24/7 at first, they want to leave it open for future expansion. They are concerned about having this conversation up front and note that the issue with the temporary center is that promises were made for the day center that are making doing what they need to do difficult. They also note this it is going much, much better at this shelter than last year. They say that they will have long term goals and not list this in the rfp. They are concerned about having flexibility. For example: What if Salvation Army has no water or a building catches fire? It would be good to have an emergency facility.
Lynn Green asks about it being jointly funded. They point out that they talked about operating funds before she arrived. They want the operator to bring some of their own resources. Atkinson says that accountability was an issue and one funder would be better to have more control. Wegleitner says that isn’t what she thinks, that there need to be multiple funders. Green says they pay about $400,000 a year for something that she thinks is similar to what is needed to run a center. Palm says that there may be some efficiencies in other areas and that existing funding might be reappropriated. They discuss that reallocations will be really hard and that many of those services might be the services provided in this facility.
They talk about the business case, existing services can’t serve 125 people. Atkinson says that this is to get resources to get to permanent solutions. Its not a club house to hang out. It is not a shelter.
HANDOUT – PERMANENT DAY RESOURCE CENTER
Sub 2 to Res 87, 2012-2013
Other adopted county resolutions
Description of existing day shelter resources
Description of current interim day shelter (county funded)
Summary of Programs in other locations
Milwaukee, Kenosha, Rockford, Indianapolis, Tulsa, Fort Worth
Recommended Services and Facility Attributes for a permanent Day Resource Center
Check in desk
Children’s area/child care
Private offices/meeting rooms
Sleeping rooms for night workers
Telephone access center
Bed bug treatment room
Showers (inc. private and accessible)
Storage for guests
Mental health services
Transportation – mass transit and bicycle
Background on siting and location
Challenges, etc siting interim center
Criteria for siting
Near bike path and major bus route
Proximity to compatible services
Sensitivity to nearby services/facilities
4 – 5,000 sq ft minimum
General location: From First Street to the East to Randall St. on the West, Between the lakes to Wingra Drive south on Park Street.
Process for siting
County real estate staff search
Consult with local officials to idenify potential sites
Request for proposals (optional)
Input from temporary resource center operator
Public hearing(s) prior to acquisition to get community input on general location or specific sites
Neighborhood meetings for each prospective site
Identify location – seek county board approval
Application for zoning/conditional use (10 weeks lead time)
March 30 – Temporary facility closes
March 1 – RFP released for operator
March 1 – RFI released for facility (optional)
May 1 – Location determined/facility leased or purchased
May 1 – Operator selected/contract negotiated
October 15 – Renovations completed
November 1 – Permanent facility opens
The report will be drafted (maybe) by the end of the week and on Tuesday at 6:00, somewhere on the 3rd floor of the city-county building (210 Martin Luther King) they will be passing the report. So, if you want to have input on what the permanent day resource center looks like, then is the time to talk!
CAN WE GET A HOMELESS PERSON ON THE COMMITTEE?
Williams asks why there are no homeless people on the committee? When Dan Callahan was kicked off the committee by the County Executive Joe Parisi, the person they appointed who was formerly homeless has never shown up for a meeting. Can we replace that person? Basford and Wegleitner have been talking with county executive staff and at this point they need to recommend someone. They are looking for suggestions.
I recommend Ronnie Barbett and Betty Ybarra.
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