Ribbon cutting held for The Beacon, Dane County's new homeless day center

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MADISON, Wis. - Dane County’s new homeless day resource center officially opens Monday, but county and city leaders held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday for the new center.

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi and representatives from Catholic Charities Madison, the city of Madison and the United Way of Dane County cut the ribbon at the new center, known as The Beacon.

The county-owned building, at 615 East Washington Ave., will advance the community’s goal of helping those who struggle with homelessness get into housing, officials said. The center will be open seven days a week, including holidays, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“Opening The Beacon is a significant step towards helping the most vulnerable in our community get back on their feet,” Parisi said in a release. “Addressing homelessness is a community effort that requires us to confront its underlying causes. The Beacon will allow guests to seek shelter and benefit from critical services that can address their personal needs and help them find housing.”

The Beacon includes separate family areas, private offices and meeting rooms to allow providers to meet confidentially with individuals and families and connect them with much-needed services, officials said.

In the center’s first few months, guests will have access to housing assessment and housing search assistance, and can use dignity services such as showers, laundry, meals and snacks, coffee, day storage, refuge from the elements, telephones, mail center, a computer lab and referral to other critical community supports.

In 2018, agencies that currently provide services in the community will start holding regular office hours at the beacon, including preventative medical services and connection to FoodShare and BadgerCare.

Dane County invested $4.75 million to open The Beacon. The county’s 2018 budget will include $175,000 to operate the center. Catholic Charities, the city of Madison and the United Way of Dane County also share in some of the operating center costs.