hands holding small home

The City of Madison’s overriding goal is to support activities that promote, achieve, or progress toward more stable housing arrangements for persons experiencing homelessness, or at risk of becoming homeless.  The City believes the goal can best be achieved through multiple strategies and interventions guided by the following principles:

  1. Secure safe and stable housing (Housing First)
  2. Advancing racial justice and equity
  3. Growing partnerships

The City supports various community partners who work toward implementing a coordinated array of homeless services summarized below. Partner agencies are selected through a Request for Proposal (RFP) process conducted every four years.


  • Homelessness Prevention: Homelessness prevention aims to reduce the number of people who experience homelessness through financial assistance and housing stabilization services that keep people in housing. 

  • Diversion: Diversion is a flexible short-term intervention that assists households at imminent risk of homelessness with innovative solutions to overcome their housing crisis and avoid entering the shelter system whenever possible. Diversion is typically offered at the point households are seeking shelter or emergency housing options.

Short-Term Crisis Response

  • Street Outreach: Street outreach brings engagement and case management services directly to people experiencing unsheltered homelessness who might not seek out services, and connect them to shelter, permanent housing and other supports.
  • Emergency Shelter: Emergency shelters provide immediate and low-barrier access to shelter and other resources until participants can move into more stable housing.

Stable Housing

  • Other Permanent Housing: Other permanent housing refers to non-Rapid Re-housing or Permanent Supportive Housing and may include subsidized housing and market rent housing without built-in supportive services.

  • Permanent Supportive Housing: Permanent Supportive Housing pairs non-time limited affordable housing with wrap-around supportive services for people with disabilities who experience chronic homelessness, ensuring access to services designed to support behavioral health needs, connections with community-based health care, treatment, employment, independent living and tenancy skills.
  • Rapid Re-housing: Rapid Re-housing is designed to help households quickly exit homelessness and return to permanent housing. The core components of Rapid Re-housing are housing identification, move-in and rental assistance, and case management services. Rapid Re-housing projects view all households as ‘housing-ready’ immediately upon entry into the project and do not require sobriety, employment, mental health stability or any other pre-conditions to housing search and placement.
  • Coordinated Entry: Coordinated Entry is a process developed to ensure that all people experiencing a housing crisis have fair and equal access to housing services and assistance. Through Coordinated Entry, households in need of assistance are quickly identified, assessed for, referred, and connected to housing and assistance based on their strengths and needs.

Information on how to access homeless services in Madison, latest data on the number of people experiencing homelessness and progress made by homeless services, funding opportunities and other resources can be found in the Homeless Services Consortium of Dane County website.