Catholic Charities plans to move Hope Haven into South Madison [Updated Monday 9/9]

[Update: Sept. 9, 2013: Monday's meeting at the Labor Temple has been cancelled. The planned move for Hope Haven may be off. Check back with Madison Commons for further updates.]

Catholic Charities plans to purchase the Wingra Clinic at 701 Dane Street in South Madison and relocate its substance abuse program, the Hope Haven center, there despite a mixed response from members of the South Madison community. 

While Catholic Charities has yet to make the purchase, Jackson Fonder, CEO of Catholic Charities, announced the group’s interest in purchasing the Wingra Clinic at the South Madison Neighborhood Plan meeting on July 18. Alder John Strasser, (14th District) confirmed that Catholic Charities intends to make the purchase.

An informational meeting to discuss the proposal will be held Sept. 9 at the Labor Temple. 

The Hope Haven center is an alcohol and drug abuse program that provides long-term residence (more than 30 days) for patients as they undergo rehabilitation. Hope Haven is one of nine substance abuse clinics available in the Madison area. This would not be the only rehab clinic in South Madison -- Quality Addiction Management is located on Ann Street just north of the Beltline.

Catholic Charities says Hope Haven’s program is more flexible in terms of cost of service for patients

Recently Hope Haven moved from its location on 425 West Johnson Street to 3602 Memorial Drive on the North side of Madison, but that move wasn’t permanent. Fonder said the Dane Street site fits well with the group's mission and that its proximity to other services it provides was a major factory in choosing the site. 

Some South Madison residents fear that Hope Haven's presence will make the neighborhood less safe. South Madison Resident Shakia Turner said she believes a rehab facility will increase the number of drug users with criminal records walking around the surrounding neighborhoods. 

“We’re still waiting for Penn Park to be fixed, which is closed because of the crime rates, and Hope Haven could bring in more crime” Turner said. “It will not be safe for our community, for the children.”

In response, Turner has started a petition drive asking Catholic Charities to use the space for the good of the community, such as an after-school tutoring center for children.

Strasser said that zoning laws may prevent the city from having any say in the transaction. The building currently houses the Wingra clinic, a medical facility. Hope Haven is also considered medical, which fits within the zoning laws for the allowed uses for the 701 Dane Street location.

Turner said a representative of Madison’s Department of Planning and Community and Economic said the shift from out-patient to in-patient services could require a variance in zoning rules. A phone call to the Department from Madison Commons on Friday morning was not returned.

Other South Madison residents welcomed the idea of Hope Haven moving into the neighborhood. At the July neighborhood plan meeting, Kevin, a South Madison resident, said “there a big need for this type of service [in the area].”  

Strasser said that the upcoming meeting will provide more information on the potential move, which he thinks will allay some concerns.