Photo Courtesy of Pat Schneider

In Madison, Wisconsin, some homeless people have been given a new option for a place to stay: an advocate’s porch. Brenda Konkel, an advocate for the homeless, and her partner, Robert Block, have been letting homeless members of the community sleep on their porch. However, there is one problem: if they continue enabling the homeless to sleep and store their belongings in recycled lockers at their residence, they face fines that could reach $300 per day.

According to an unhappy neighbor, allowing homeless people to store their belongings on a porch is a zoning violation. ThinkProgress reports that after a complaint from said neighbor, Madison’s Building
and Zoning departments sent notices of violation to Konkel and Bloch. The advocates are confused about why this is a zoning violation, because people often store belongings on porches. In fact, Konkel is concerned about the lack of safe storage places available to homeless people. Because no location exists where they can put their stuff down without being sure it won’t be stolen, many homeless people are forced to keep their belongings on their person, which could lead to pain or strain, Konkel explained. “They have zoned homeless people out of everywhere… there’s no legal place to go,” she said. Madison Zoning Administrator Matt Tucker promised to work with the couple to the best of his ability, but noted that the city’s code restricts sleeping outside a house to those who have access to its interior.