MADISON (WKOW) -- A homeless day shelter began operation on Madison's east side Monday, with people streaming in to get out of the cold, and receive services, as neighbors braced for possible problems.
The shelter on East Washington Avenue is in a former youth center building, with Dane County's commitment of more than half a million dollars allowing the facility to remain open through Mar. 31.
Shelter director Sarah Gillmore tells 27 News while the facility is primarily a refuge from cold temperatures and the coming winter, it will offer daily services to help visitors regain identification, apply for jobs, and meet other needs. Gilmore says other help-sites are not open for the homeless population each day, leading to interruptions in getting vital help.
Representatives of the facility's next door neighbor, The Rainbow Project, have objected to the day shelter's siting. They have said their clientele for counseling services include vulnerable children. A representative of the Rainbow Project Tuesday was unavailable for comment on the shelter's opening.
Shelter visitor Devon Fletcher concedes at least one other attempt at a homeless day shelter's operation in Madison was challenged by the presence of intoxicated, disorderly visitors. But Fletcher says options are limited for people in the homeless community to stay warm during the day when winter weather gets brutally cold. Fletcher tells 27 News he hopes services at the new day center will help him find work.
Gillmore says she and her staff are aware of neighborhood concerns. Gillmore tells 27 News staff members plan to wear bright-colored vests and carry out neighborhood watches to ensure the center's visitors remain respectful.
County supervisor and state representative-elect Melissa Sargent says the shelter will help many people during the coming cold months, but tells 27 News discussions on finding a more permanent day shelter elsewhere continue.
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