Madson Gardens supportive housing blooms in Tulare

Tulare County Supervisor Amy Shuklian talking during the opening reception ceremony for Madson Gardens, a new supportive housing development in Tulare.(Karis Caddell)

Tulare community, county officials celebrate the grand opening of Madson Gardens, a former motel transformed into supportive housing for unhoused individuals

TULARE – Madson Gardens, a new permanent supportive housing project in Tulare, has officially opened its doors, offering 56 studio apartments as a “welcome home” to individuals who are without shelter.

The recent addition to supportive housing had its grand opening on May 2, where community members and public officials attended the opening to enjoy Madson Gardens’ beautiful grounds, tours of the studio apartments, refreshments and to honor the long journey to opening the apartment.

“It’s an incredible project,” County Supervisor Amy Shuklian said in an interview with The Sun-Gazette.

She continued to explain that, given the current housing crisis, every housing development is important, and hopefully Madson Gardens is just the start.

“Fifty-six units is great, but it’s not enough,” she said.

Located at 26442,CA-99, the 56 studio apartments of the new Madson Gardens were once a motel in Tulare. The development is for homeless individuals and is funded through Project Homekey, a state initiative that supports vulnerable individuals in need of housing by providing government agencies with the funds needed to get projects like this underway.

The apartments provide a sleek modern space for individuals to have dignified housing, including a full bathroom and kitchen, queen size bed, dining table for two and a spacious closet.

During the opening reception, Shuklian gave a certificate of appreciation to Kate Wilbur, the executive director at RH Community Builders, and to Jessica Berzac the co-owner and president of Upholdings. UPholdings and RH Community Builders have partnered to be the development team lead for the proposed Homekey project.

At the reception, Wilbur and Berzac emphasized how vital this partnership is. It brings in the expertise required for developing, owning and managing permanent supportive housing; and this expertise is crucial for effectively pursuing funding for Project Homekey.

Additionally, Wilbur recalled her own experiences from when she travels, and recounted counting down the minutes until she is able to make it home. Following this, she noted the importance of having a safe place to return to, and because of that, she said she couldn’t stop thinking about how “now these people have a place to call home.”

“We’re really excited that it’s done and people are moving in and living here,” Wilbur said in an interview with The Sun-Gazette.

Unlike many of the other new developments for low income residents, Madson Garden is specifically for homeless individuals. Wilbur noted all of the residents of Madson Gardens were placed there through the Tulare County Continuum of Care’s Coordinated Entry System.

“The Coordinated Entry System is designed to mitigate that and an equitable opportunity for individuals to get to the right level of housing,” Wilbur said. “Everybody who moves in here will have had some engagement with a housing navigation or homeless service provider that puts them through coordinated entry, and they get matched to this level of housing.”

Community members and leaders mingling during the opening reception of the new Madson Gardens housing development. (Karis Caddell)

The project is supported through partnerships with the Housing Authority of Tulare County, Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) and the Kings/Tulare Homeless Alliance. Tulare HHSA will provide supportive services, and the Kings/Tulare Homeless Alliance and Housing Authority will support the project with housing vouchers.

Wilbur also reflected on the journey that led to the project’s completion, recounting its start in 2020 and the extensive setbacks caused by persistent environmental issues. Originally launched under the name Project Roomkey, a federally funded homelessness initiative in California, the project provided shelter until funding ceased, leaving the property dormant.

However, with the allocation of Homekey funding, the Tulare County Housing Authority acquired and transferred the property to RH Community Builders. Project Homekey, a California initiative, contributed $14 million to Tulare County, facilitating the development of Madson Garden.

Supervisor Shuklian also noted in her interview with The Sun-Gazette that the original hotel came with its fair share of roadblock before it was ready to be used as apartments. She said there were some factors that led to the property having environmental issues, like how old the original hotel was.

“Unfortunately, a lot of due diligence wasn’t done when they purchased it, so there were a lot of issues,” Shuklian said.

Shuklian also remembers the long journey that led up to the completion of the Madson Gardens Apartments as recalled the property when it was an active hotel. She explained that she grew up coming to the old hotel because her family owned a business across the street named “Shuklian Brothers Incorporated.”

“The Tagus Ranch, restaurant and hotel. It was prime. It was the place to stay back in the day,” Shuklian said.

She said Tagus Ranch had their own currency system where ranch workers were paid in “Tagus coins” they could use at the hotel and purchase groceries.

“It has a rich history,” Shuklian said.

After all the work that went into transforming the old hotel into Madson Garden apartments, Shuklian noted that it was the work and staff of many different agencies that resulted in the project’s completion. She said Upholdings and RH Community Builders should be acknowledged for coming into the community and expressed appreciation for the county’s HHSA staff, family services and the California Department of Housing & Community Development.

“It’s not just one person or one entity that’s gonna make a difference in this,” she said.

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