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Woman shot inside Madison apartment building for homeless; one person detained

November 20, 2018

A woman suffered non-life-threatening injuries after being shot Monday inside her apartment at a building for homeless families on the Far West Side, Madison police said. One person is in custody in the incident.

Madison police spokesman Joel DeSpain said the shooting was reported in the 7900 block of Tree Lane around 2:50 p.m. He said officers quickly got to the scene and detained a person of interest who was trying to flee the area.

Joe Dutra, a spokesman for Heartland Housing, confirmed the shooting happened in the nonprofit’s apartment building at 7933 Tree Lane.

DeSpain said the 36-year-old woman was taken to a hospital for wounds to an arm and a leg.

“We’re working closely with the Madison Police Department as they investigate. Our top priority is ensuring the safety for our participants, staff and community,” Dutra said in a statement.

The 45-unit, $11.75-million project opened in mid-June and soon became a concern for some neighbors after three large-scale fights there in August and other calls for police.

Ald. Paul Skidmore, whose 9th District includes the four-story apartment building, confirmed that a man arrested last week in the 7900 block of Tree Lane on suspicion of a Nov. 11 attempted homicide on the East Side was also detained by police at the apartment building.

He said he thought “enough is enough” after the man’s arrest on Thursday and was “extremely dismayed” by Monday’s shooting.

“I still have a great deal of support for the Housing First program, and I have no regrets about supporting this, but my concern is that we have serious problems,” Skidmore said. “We can no longer wait for a system that is not working to change.”

Housing First is an approach to housing homeless people that emphasizes getting them into permanent homes first, and then offering them drug treatment and other social services help.

Skidmore said he intends to meet with Mayor Paul Soglin, police and Community Development Division staff to discuss ways to curb problems at the complex.

Heartland staff have previously said many of the problems at Tree Lane are caused by guests and visitors, including some who are not invited.

Tree Lane is the city’s second attempt at the Housing First approach after Rethke Terrace, a 60-unit building on the East Side for homeless individuals and veterans. It opened in 2016 and is also operated by Heartland.

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