Nonprofit housing agencies plan to step up their pressure on the state Legislature to preserve their exemptions from property taxation ("Alders clash with Madison city attorney over property tax exemption," 4/30/2009).
Next Tuesday at noon, they plan a protest "tent city" on the Capitol Square, to symbolize the people who could lose housing if these groups are taxed. Dean Loumos, head of Housing Initiatives, says some people may stay in the tents until the crisis is resolved: "We really want to impress upon the legislators a sense of urgency."
The Madison City Attorney's Office is being blamed for the crisis, having successfully argued in court that nonprofits must use their rent money only for maintenance or construction debt - or pay property taxes. Housing providers say this might force hundreds of poor - many of them disabled or mentally ill - to live on the streets.
"I'd like to get at least 500 people [at the protest]," says Loumos. "I'm going to set up a tent. Not sure if I'm going to stay overnight."