Madison Area Rehabilitation Centers, Inc.
The site, located at 3939 Lien Road, won't be available until 2014.
Dane County's second call seeking proposals for a day homeless resource center ended Thursday with just one bid, a proposal it already had.
And with no obvious site available, it looks as though the library will be one of a few places the community will rely on in helping homeless people get through the winter.
The county has been looking for a permanent place for a day shelter for more than a year. An earlier request for proposals turned up just two bids in August, neither of which were in the geographical area officials prefer. So the county loosened its criteria, hoping to produce other possibilities.
But at the 2 p.m. deadline Thursday, Madison Area Rehabilitation Centers, Inc. had submitted the only proposal. The center resubmitted an offer for its 11,500-square-foot building at 3939 Lien Road, which it will vacate next year to move to a new location.
The center is not in the downtown area, which was high on the wish list of homeless advocates. But the facility itself is just about perfect for a day resource center, says Mike Basford, who chairs the county's Homeless Issues Committee.
"It's a nearly turnkey solution," he says. "It's got shower facilities, space where we could put the lockers, lots of spaces were we could set up group sessions and classes, and spaces where people can connect with case managers."
But, he adds, "If we're going to use this, we have to come up with a strategy for moving people from downtown to the site and back. I don't know if we'll be able to do that by relying on [city buses]."
Another issue is that the site won't be available until next year. Meaning the city will go through the winter without having a day resource center. Officials had hoped to have the center up and running by July 2013. The past two winters the county rented temporary space for a day shelter. But there aren't any funds allocated to do so again this winter.
Supv. Heidi Wegleitner says the county is working on a proposal to get through the winter without a resource center. Part of that involves funding homeless services at Bethel Lutheran Church on Wisconsin Avenue so the church can offer services five days a week instead of three.
Basford notes that the Central Library will soon be open again. Its closing for renovations in the fall of 2011 is partly what spurred advocates to push for a day shelter. Its reopening will once again give the homeless someplace to go during cold days.
The library staff have been accommodating to the needs of homeless people, Basford says. The county recently signed a contract with Shine608, the organization headed by Sarah Gillmore and Z! Haukeness, who ran the day shelter last year, to provide services for homeless in the library.
Says Basford: "I think that with the library being able to be used again and the library staff being very accommodating, it makes it, while not an optimal solution, it's workable."
Library director Greg Mickells could not be reached for comment on Thursday.