Parisi urges continuation of emergency hotel shelter program amid increased COVID-19 cases

Parisi Crisis Triage Center Announcement

MADISON, Wis. — Dane County Executive Joe Parisi on Wednesday asked county staff to consider extending a county-run emergency housing program as COVID-19 cases climb throughout the area.

The county’s emergency hotel shelter program has been in place since mid-2020 to help people experiencing homelessness who also have an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 find a place to stay. The program also helps those who need a place to isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19 symptoms.

The program is set to expire in June of this year.

“We made a commitment at the outset of the pandemic to do all we can to help protect our most vulnerable, and while our work continues to secure permanent housing, emergent needs persist and they’re magnified by the recent surge in Covid-19 case counts and hospitalizations,” Parisi said.

According to Public Health Madison & Dane County’s COVID-19 dashboard, cases have been trending upward since late March. On Monday, Dane County confirmed 364 new cases.

“While many have moved on and shifted focus away from the pandemic, the effects of this ever-changing virus are still being felt and vulnerable populations remain at risk,” Parisi said.

To date, the county has spent $23.1 million on the hotel housing program. Officials said the county is currently using roughly 170 hotel rooms to shelter those who need it. Parisi said an additional $3 million in funding would allow the program to house an estimated 120 people for the next 8 months.

The county executive has since asked county staff to talk with local hotels about the feasibility of continuing the program.