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Sunday, January 25, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 25.0° F  Light Snow
The Daily
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Dane County plans warming center, then day shelter for homeless
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Hendrick: 'One of the big issues is going to be choosing a central location.'
Hendrick: 'One of the big issues is going to be choosing a central location.'

Dane County officials are moving ahead with plans to operate a day shelter for the homeless, not just this winter, but year-round.

On Monday night, the Dane County board approved a $524 million budget for 2013. The budget includes $600,000 to construct a permanent day shelter.

"I would hope that could open by July 1 of next year," says Supv. John Hendrick, who adds that the county will put out a request for proposals for the project. "One of the big issues is going to be choosing a central location so it's accessible to transit and people who would use it."

In the meantime, the county is moving to open a temporary "warming center" for this winter at 827 E. Washington Ave.

In the fall, it allocated roughly $15,000 to run the shelter this December. On Monday night, it approved another $40,000 for the first three months of next year.

One of the site's East Washington Avenue neighbors, the Rainbow Project, which counsels children and families who are dealing with trauma and abuse, is opposed to locating the warming center there. Rumors were circulating that County Executive Joe Parisi would veto a center at that location.

However, Parisi's spokeswoman, Casey Slaughter Becker, says that location might be the most feasible as the weather rapidly grows cold. The site has an interior courtyard, where homeless people could wait or smoke cigarettes so they won't loiter on the sidewalks.

Says Slaughter Becker: "County staff have had a number of discussions with potential neighbors…and elected officials, and are committed to working with them to address their concerns."

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