United Way of Dane County working to end homelessness for area families

United Way of Dane County working to...


Madison is moving the needle when it comes to solving the city's homeless problem. There's a new daycenter, scheduled to open this fall, but there are still more steps to be taken.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has set a goal to end family homelessness by 2020.  Dane County is working on reaching that goal locally. Martha Cranley, director of community impact and strategic communications at United Way of Dane County, said right now their biggest focus is getting the 400-500 families who used emergency shelters this year into permanent housing.

The new day shelter will have a laundromat, places to shower, on top of social services, with the ultimate goal of getting people on their feet and into permanent housing. But Cranley said it’s much easier said than done.

"What we lack here is affordable housing in people," Cranley said. 

Citing a University of Wisconsin-Madison study Cranley said the area is so far behind in affordable housing it would need to build 10,000 units in the next 10 years to catch up.

"So the city is very committed, but their five-year plan gives us 1,000 units in five years,” Cranley said.

Cranley said the United Way of Dane County is funding organizations to help make housing more affordable that are working closely with some landlords, developers and property managers. She said the upcoming opening of the Beacon and Stone House, an affordable housing development near downtown, are huge steps in the right direction, but believes the more people that participate in creating affordable housing the more progress will come.  

“A lot of families would be just fine if they could afford their housing,” Cranley said.

The Beacon day shelter will be used by both single adults and families. Cranley said the United Way of Dane County’s overall focus is to place families in housing right now, but they've found similar methods work for single people or adult couples.

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