Madison emergency overnight men’s shelter moves into new temporary location on First Street

MADISON, Wis.– The temporary overnight men’s shelter moved about three miles south from Warner Park to a former fleet services building.

The 43,000 square foot space, located at 200 N. First Street, can shelter more than 250 people, which is many more than the Warner Park spot. The city expects more than 100 people to use shelter.

“It’s not cozy, but it’s totally functional,” Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said.

The shelter has bathroom and shower trailers. It serves breakfast and dinner to overnight guests.

“All of those are amenities that are dramatic improvements over what we’ve been able to offer,” Madison Community Development Director Jim O’Keefe said.

O’Keefe said the shelter is designed to help as many people as possible. The shelter lifted rules banning drug and alcohol users and waved the 90 day limit.

Guests are screened for COVID-19 symptoms during in-take. Anyone showing symptoms will be transferred to the medical respite shelter.

“It’s so cold out that we are really asking that people come inside and get warm,” Rhodes-Conway said.

The city thought it found a spot for a permanent shelter this fall, only to see that deal fall through, which put more pressure to find a quick fix before colder temperatures set in.

“When winter came and we still didn’t have a permanent solution, we knew we needed a bigger space and that’s why we are here,” Rhodes-Conway said.

It would cost Madison $1.7 million dollars to run this shelter for an entire year, according to O’Keefe. He said the city paid less than $500,000 a year when the city housed the shelter.

“It’s a far larger budget than has been the case, for example at Grace Episcopal Church, which for over 35 years had been the venue,” O’Keefe said.

Rhodes-Conway said the county is chipping in, too, but she hopes the federal government doesn’t leave Dane County and the men who need this space out in the cold.

“We have put the funding for this together in bits and pieces,” Rhodes-Conway said. “It’s just incredible to me that Congress is hours away from going home for the holiday and they haven’t yet voted for a relief act.”

The shelter opens at 5 p.m. and closes at 8:30 the next morning.

There are a couple dozen parking spaces for guests to use. There is also a shuttle that takes people to and from the Beacon in Downtown Madison and the shelter.