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Safe Haven to remain open for now, but director worries about 2019

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MADISON (WKOW) -- It's a Madison shelter that was close to shutting its doors after federal funding was cut. But after the community rallied behind it, the shelter will remain open for now. 

It's a place that offers rooms, a hot meal and mental health services to Madison's homeless. Back in August, 27 News told you Safe Haven would shut it's doors on January 1st if it didn't get the funds it needed.

"We serve a good 40 people a day who come and use the showers and the laundry and the counseling services," said Karla Thennes, the executive director of Porchlight which runs the shelter. 

Back in August, she said it was hard telling residents, like Sharon Jackson, she would be evicted. 

"A lot of people talking about getting sleeping bags, you know. Sleeping out, but it's going to be freezing out there you know," Jackson said in August as she wiped away tears, worried she would soon be with no place to live. 

Jackson is now in her own apartment in Waunakee, hoping for the best for the shelter that helped her.

"Safe Haven literally saved my life," she said as she sat comfortably in her new living room. 

But now there's a new sense of hope for Safe Haven. Due to $310,000 raised by the community, the shelter will stay open with full, round-the-clock services through March of 2018.

"Then starting April 1st, we are going to be renting the 14 beds to folks who have been homeless and have had serious mental health issues," Thennes said. 

They'll charge between $300 and $350 a month per room. Thennes said those who get disability will likely be able to pay for the affordable housing. But both Thennes and Jackson fear for those who won't be able to pay for it.

"For the 40 people who come each day, they will have to leave in the evening after the supper meal and head outside," said Thennes. 

"I don't know what they're going to do, you know, I don't know what they're going to do. Because I don't know what I would do, you know," said Jackson. 

Safe Haven still needs $90,000 in order to keep the 24-7 services available past March of 2018. However, Thennes said, currently, there's not a single penny saved up to keep the shelter open in 2019. Now, Porchlight is looking for a long-term solution to keep the shelter's doors open past 2018.

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