Two weeks ago, Isthmus reported on a crisis facing the city's homeless population. With winter fast approaching, two daytime refuges for the homeless are going to be off limits: the downtown library, which will close for renovations, and the Capitol cafeteria, which has been closed to the public since the protests.
The problem has attracted the attention of Downtown Madison Inc., which is spearheading an effort to bring together representatives from all the downtown churches to look for solutions.
DMI president Susan Schmitz says the organization recognized a need to act.
"We've been talking about getting the churches together anyway," she says. "Now with the library closing, I don't know where these [homeless] folks are going to go."
Mayor Paul Soglin says his staff is also looking into the issue, though he is pessimistic the city can do much to help. Madison is facing severe funding cuts from the state, and some 70 layoffs are being contemplated.
"The city is not in a position to provide housing," Soglin says. "There's something that really needs to be made clear in this discussion. As the federal government and the state of Wisconsin ratchet down on the poor, cities like Madison do not have the capacity to solve all these problems."