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Stick with shelter on First Street -- David Ahrens

Stick with shelter on First Street -- David Ahrens

I agree with the Wisconsin State Journal's editorial last Sunday, “Madison needs to get a homeless shelter done." We are long past the time when church basements and city parks would substitute for a humane and sufficient means of meeting the needs of homeless residents.

But the editorial overlooked a solution that already is at hand and, thus, can meet the needs of homeless people next winter.

Let’s use the current shelter on First Street. Last year the city invested over $1 million to turn the city garage into the shelter for 250 men. (The average occupancy last winter was 113.)

This site is on 10 bus lines and a mile from The Beacon for services to homeless individuals.

What’s holding up this solution? It's the mayor’s insistence that the city's Public Market must be on First Street. This site has little parking and no other shopping options. Compare this to the East Towne Mall site, with shopping at multiple venues, parking and possibly an adjacent "bus rapid transit" hub.

Instead of catering to her east Isthmus voters, the mayor should adopt this option which would be beneficial to the homeless and increase the potential customer base for both the market, East Towne Mall and its surrounding retail.

David Ahrens, Madison, former alderman

Follow along as Phil Hands shows you how he draws his latest editorial cartoon. 

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