Friends, there are changes afoot. Because of the Great Funding Battle of 2015 (see below for refresher), we are decreasing some of our services at the end of December, and shutting some of them down completely as of January 1, 2016.
End of December Decreasing of Services:
- Housing Vacancy List: Each week, we publish a list of available housing (info here and here). Because the funding that we receive to publish this list is ending, our last housing vacancy list will be published the 23rd of December. As of January 1, 2016, the CAC is responsible for publishing the housing vacancy list.
- Housing Help Desk: December 28, 29, 30 are the last three days that we are staffing the Help Desk. During those final days, we will be packing up our office, so please send clients directly to our main office December 28-30. As of January 1, 2016, the CAC is responsible for staffing that office, so you may direct your clients to Room 2 at the Dane County Job Center to seek the services that the Help Desk offers.
As of January 1, 2016:
- Housing Vacancy List: In 2016, the CAC is responsible for publishing the Housing Vacancy List.
- Housing Help Desk: Currently, the funds that we receive to run the Housing Help Desk also fund housing counseling outside the City of Madison (but inside Dane County), and services for the homeless/near homeless. It makes sense that since the CAC is receiving this funding, they'd be required to provide those services, but it's not clear at this time if they will (we have been told that the contract is being negotiated). As such, we have no resources for those seeking housing counseling outside the City of Madison but inside Dane County. Please contact the CAC or your elected official with questions about those services after January 1, 2016.
- Housing Help Desk phone line: Currently, staff at the Help Desk can be reached by calling 608-257-8278. We also have access to a forwarded phone number at 608-242-7406. TRC staff will not answer/have access to either phone line as of January 1, 2016. We do not know if the CAC personnel that will be staffing the Help Desk will continue to receive calls from 608-242-7406, but we will update folks via the blog in the future.
Here's what we think:
Staffing the Help Desk was hard, but we loved it. There were so many clients, who had so many needs, and we wanted to help them (we did help them). We had a complicated relationship to the contract that funded us at the Housing Help Desk - we had to spend far more than we received in order to put staff there. But we did it because we believed in the work.
We still believe in this work. And we will be okay. Here's the plan: We need your help in raising $20,000 (a far cry from the $90,000 we lost), which will keep our heads above water in 2016. This will help us to explore funding options that will better serve our community for the years to come. It’ll allow us to keep our incredibly compassionate staff to answer the many thousands of phone calls we get annually. We will continue to provide the majority of the services that define us: housing counseling, mediation. We will need to cut back on services to folks outside of the City of Madison but inside Dane County (the CAC has been selected for that funding, and we hope they are able to provide those services).
We will continue to fight for our clients. We are still strong. We are more resolved.
The Great Funding Battle of 2015:
- Our Dane County Funding went up for bidding, the first time in 17 years. This money funds our Housing Help Desk, and services for people that live inside Dane County but outside the City of Madison. The proposal combined our services with those that another agency does, and didn't evaluate work that we do (that clients really need us to do). So, the funding was awarded to another agency, a good one, but one that doesn't do what we do.
- So, we asked Joe Parisi to change it - the evaluation process was flawed (even the evaluators said so). We asked him a bunch of times. But he didn't.
- Then we asked the Dane County Board of Supervisors fund services for people outside of the City of Madison, especially tenant/landlord rental rights and responsibilities counseling from their discretionary funds. But the Health and Human Needs Committee didn't take up the issue.
- We thought, well maybe the City of Madison will help us. We asked the City Council to fund us for a part of what we lost, from their unallocated budget funds. But the City Council voted it down 9 - 11.
- Finally, we tried to get a part of that $90,000 from the Dane County Board of Supervisors, as a part of the super-amendment that they add to finalize the budget, but the Dane County Board of Supervisors didn't include us in that super-amendment. And no County Board Supervisor made an amendment to include us in the budget at their final meeting on November 16th.
- So what now? We're working on our backup plan. It will take us a little bit, but we'll let you know.