Common Council approves purchase of vacant building to serve as temporary men’s shelter

MADISON, Wis. — Madison’s Common Council on Tuesday voted to buy a vacant building near East Towne Mall to use as a temporary men’s homeless shelter.

The council voted 14-6 in favor of the purchase which would turn a property located at 2002 Zeier Road into a temporary shelter as city leaders continue their search for a permanent one.


Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said she’s confident the city will find a permanent location soon.

“Their decision is an important step forward in preparing for the need for temporary shelter space next fall when work is scheduled to begin to convert the First Street facility for use as the Madison Public Market,” Rhodes-Conway said. “Meanwhile, the City remains focused on selecting a site for a permanent men’s shelter. I am confident that decision will come in the near future.”

Ald. Gary Halverson who represents District 17, which includes the proposed temporary shelter, voted against the purchase.

“The city staff have been reviewing several locations to site the permanent men’s shelter and we are within weeks of choosing one,” Halverson said. “It does not make any sense to spend $2.6M on a temporary location, uproot the current residents at the 1st street temporary shelter, commit city staff and service provider staff to organize yet another move when we are so close to choosing a permanent site.”

Earlier this year the Common Council rejected a separate plan to turn the same building into a permanent men’s homeless shelter after area business owners shared concerns that the shelter would negatively impact their business. Halverson said he’s worried about how potential developers interested in the East Towne Mall area might react with the temporary shelter held nearby.

RELATED: Common Council approves proposal to move Reindahl Park encampment

The city is also working to finalize plans for an alternative encampment after the Council voted earlier this fall to move the one at Reindahl Park to a location on Dairy Drive.