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Madison mayor pushes for housing security during pandemic

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MADISON (WKOW) -- A major announcement from governor Evers Friday, evictions and foreclosures are being suspended statewide during the public health emergency.

It's a move Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway was hoping for, but she says landlords should now work with their tenants to make sure the housing situation doesn't become strained as this pandemic continues.

In other states and cities, a rent freeze has been discussed as a possibility to help tenants deal with a lack of income to pay for their housing.

Mayor Rhodes-Conway said she was in support of that.

However, she also wanted to ensure that small businesses are also included in the discussion, not just residential tenants.

"There are a lot of people who are hurting economically right now, this virus has, and the measures that we are taking to prevent it, is really devastating whole swaths of our economy," she said.

Because of that, she says landlords should do everything they can to help their tenants.

As we reported Thursday, some landlords are saying they will be charging late fees to anyone who doesn't pay rent on time next week.

At the same time, some of the area's homeless shelters are filling up and getting cramped, and it's raising concerns that they can be a hotbed of infection due to lack of social distancing.

Rhodes-Conway said staff are putting the finishing touches at the Warner Park Community Center, the future home of a temporary shelter for homeless men.

Last week, more than 70 of the most vulnerable people experiencing homelessness and were checked into hotels in the area.

The Community Center will be home 125 single men to relieve the stress on porchlight homeless shelter.

"I think it's important for the community to know that this is not the end of our efforts for our homeless community, this is the beginning," Mayor Rhodes-Conway said. "We do expect that that we will have more people that are housing insecure."

She said that they hope to transition other city and county buildings to homeless shelters as the need arises.

But she mentioned that they hope to have a place for everyone who needs it while maintaining proper social distancing and hygiene.

The Warner Park shelter should be ready to go by mid-week next week.

Francisco Almenara

Reporter, WKOW

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