Incoming Madison men’s homeless shelter to get extra $2M in federal funds

MADISON, Wis. — The city of Madison’s longstanding plans to build a permanent men’s homeless shelter in Madison got an additional boost on Tuesday, with Rep. Mark Pocan (D-02) announcing he had obtained an earmark for another $2 million in federal funds in the recently passed government funding bill.

The city announced it had picked a third and hopefully-final location for the site two weeks ago, located on Bartillon Drive on Madison’s northeast side. The city has struggled to find a location for the shelter, with the first two locations falling through.

The shelter will be built from scratch and include both the basic essentials like showers and food for men overnight, as well as longterm services and possibly a new city library.

“These funds will help us construct a purpose-built men’s shelter, which will provide safety, dignity and opportunity for people who are experiencing homelessness,” Madison mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said during a joint press conference with Rep. Pocan on Tuesday. “It’s very important that this is purpose built, because for decades, we have housed people experiencing homelessness in facilities that were not built to house people–in church basements, old schools, gymnasiums.”

In 2020, many local shelters — which relied on church basements and other spaces — were forced to shutter their operations because of health concerns amid the COVID-19 pandemic. City leaders responded by opening a temporary shelter at Warner Park before shifting the shelter to Madison’s former Fleet Services Building in November 2020.

‘We don’t have anything like it’: Madison announces plans for purpose-built men’s homeless shelter

The extra $2 million in federal funding will join an existing $2 million in federal COVID relief funds, as well as $3 million from Dane County and $4 million from the city of Madison. There is no final price tag yet for the project, with the city still needing construction bids and city council approval.

“I was proud to advocate for this shelter and secure $2,000,000 for this facility,” Rep. Pocan said in a press release. “Shelters like this one provide vital assistance to the unhoused, providing them with much-needed support and services that will help them. I want to thank Mayor Rhodes-Conway and the leaders here in Madison for bringing this project to my attention.”

Two city alders accuse Madison mayor of ‘cutting them out’ of men’s homeless shelter process

The announcement two weeks ago faced backlash from some city alders, who didn’t necessarily oppose the location announcement but said they hadn’t been given a heads-up from the mayor.