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Token Creek homeless given month extension

Published On: Feb 16 2013 11:23:35 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 17 2013 08:43:42 AM CST
DEFOREST, Wis. -

A group of homeless people will be staying at a Dane County campsite for another month after agreeing to a deal with the county.

Back in May 2012, homeless people who lived on East Washington at an "Occupy Madison" site were forced out.

After some moving around, a couple dozen of them settled in Token Creek Park, in the Deforest area.

The permit to stay at Token Creek was set to expire Sunday. Now, those gathered can stay – for now.

"I'm one of the newest 'Occupy' members," said Carl Jonas.

After only a few weeks, Jonas is settling into living at Token Creek Park.

The 22-year-old said he has already been homeless nine times.

"As long as the electricity is going, we're managing," said Jonas of conditions at Token Creek Park. "Water, wood, and electricity are basic necessities here."

Though Dane County is allowing the homeless community to stay intact at Token Creek Park for one more month, in exchange the group won't be granted future permits to camp there or any other county owned sites in the winter.

"I'm grateful for that for one, because a lot of people here were against it because they wanted to come here again next winter," said Jonas.

"It's kind of a mixed thing," said Jeremy Evenson, also staying at Token Creek Park. "Because there's no way we would have been able to get out by February 17. We have stuff still frozen to the ground."

Evenson has lived in the park since November. He said an extension will give the estimated 25 campers more time to find a new home.

On the new deadline of March 17, the county said the site's electricity will be shut off, the portable toilets removed, and shuttle service from Madison to the campsite will be discontinued.

The Dane County Executive's office released a statement on Saturday saying they're pleased the campers have accepted the agreement.

Most of the campers seemed pleased as well, and some remain hopeful for the future.

"God's been taking care of me all right so far," said Jonas.

The campers acknowledged the campgrounds will need to be cleaned up after they leave, and they've requested that the city provide them with trucks to help them remove their homes from the park by the deadline.

"The campground will need to be rehabbed, but we need a place to go too," said Evenson.

13 people at the camp approved of the decision to comply with the county and stay for just another month.

Campers said they're always on the lookout for water, wood, and sand to cover icy areas of the site.

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