Madison Gets Federal Help To Provide Housing For Homeless Veterans

Recent Head Count Found 120 Homeless Veterans In City

Shamane Mills/WPR

Madison is receiving $135,000 to provide permanent homes to 25 veterans.

The city is in the process of constructing a 70-unit building on Madison’s east side to help the chronically homeless, with 25 of the units reserved specifically for veterans. It recently announced that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development would be providing vouchers to help pay for the veterans’ housing in the new facility.

It’s part of a joint federal program with the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide permanent housing for veterans. All told, HUD is giving nearly $12 million to 70 public housing agencies across the U.S.

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A head count done this past January in Madison estimated that there are 120 homeless veterans in Madison.

“Homelessness is wrong, but there’s something more wrong about being homeless and a veteran,” said Dean Loumos, who directs a program in the city that helps the homeless called Housing Initiatives. “The commitment that they made to us needs to be returned.”

Federal officials say the number of homeless veterans in Wisconsin has declined 12 percent since 2010, when President Barack Obama launched Opening Doors — a program with a goal of eliminating homelessness by the end of 2015. Some U.S. cities — like New Orleans, Phoenix and Salt Lake City — have achieved what’s called “functional zero,” meaning they have the resources to immediately house a person but expect numbers will rise as others become homeless. Others, like Madison, have not.

HUD regional administrator Antonio Riley, who was in Madison Monday, asserts that progress is being made around the country.

“We’re not going to hang our heads in shame, because we have housed a lot of people. And if we can then, shortly after 2015, begin to have more communities hit that magic number, then we’re willing to accept that,” said Riley.

Social services would be provided on site at the new building in Madison, which is scheduled to open this spring.