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Dane County moves homeless camp, pushes to open day shelter

Published On: Nov 16 2012 10:38:42 PM CST
MADISON, Wis. -

According to a letter from Dane County, the tents pitched at Lake View Park have to be taken down by 6 p.m. Saturday.

Those campers are allowed to move to Token Creek Park. That special permit, the letter says, will last 90 days.

It’s a site the homeless say is far removed without any means of transportation and inadequate facilities.

“In the winter time, it's pretty much desolate. There's no water.

There's nothing out there for us but probably snow and freezing.

That's about it,” homeless camper Franjo Majstoric said.

Majstoric has lived on the site for about a week. He says he hasn’t left his new home for six or seven days straight for fear of the police taking all of his belongings without him knowing.

“Why move us? What's the difference?” Majstoric asked. “If we can have a special permit out there, why can't we have one here?”

A Dane County representative hand delivered the note to the dozen or so campers Friday afternoon.

The letter stresses that there is shelter space available, but Majstoric says those options have become too dangerous.

“I'm not willing put myself at risk, at harm, foul treatment because I became homeless. I'm not willing to do that,” Majstoric said.

Dane County is set to open its new day shelter for the homeless on November 26.

That only leaves about a week and a half to fill the empty building on East Washington Avenue with all of the things needed to run the facility.

“Now that the weather's getting cold,” Dane County Supervisor John Hendrick said, “it's even more clear why we have to have a place for people to be during the day to stay warm.”

A building that’s now padlocked and cleared out will have bathroom facilities, lockers to store personal belongings, phones, mailboxes, and a computer lab.

Hendrick says food will also be provided at the day shelter.

Most of the work now is focused on switching up the entrance to the building and adding fencing to create a more distinct separation between the shelter and the Rainbow Project next door.

“It's a small thing to do, and obviously, the permanent solution is to have enough housing and for people to have jobs and income to afford that housing,” Hendrick said.

The county signed a four-month lease for the building. In the most recent budget, $600,000 was set aside to establish a permanent homeless day shelter.

Hendrick says that is set to open in July 2013.

In the meantime, Majstoric and his fellow campers pack up and leave another site, hoping the city and county answer their pleas for more resources.

“Whatever they do offer us, we will have to settle for because we'll have no choice,” Majstoric said.

Hendrick says the day shelter is in need of computers and would welcome any donations. He is confident the shelter will be ready by the 26th.
 

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