With winter approaching and dozens of homeless individuals living in city-approved and unsanctioned outdoor encampments, two Madison committees were cool Wednesday on a proposal to begin breaking up campsites on city land.
The Public Safety Review Committee rejected a proposal by two City Council members to end an emergency order issued this spring that has allowed temporarily camps for people experiencing homelessness in certain parks and greenways. The proposal would also direct staff to break up other unsanctioned camps.
“It’s been made very apparent there’s a lot of problems with this,” said committee member Matthew Mitnick. “In a way, this would criminalize homelessness. It would create more problems than it would solve.”
Wanting more information on what shelter solutions the city is exploring, the Parks Commission was hesitant on putting an end to the encampments and pushed back a decision on the proposal until next month.
Volunteers and advocates for the homeless spoke out against the proposal, saying there’s no viable plan in place to shelter those living in encampments, which act as a centralized locations to provide outreach and services.
A resolution sponsored by Alds. Samba Baldeh and Zachary Henak would end the emergency order Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway issued in May in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to allow “temporary permissible encampments” in eligible parks and greenways.