A knock on the door brings help for homeless families in motels

Last Aug. 27, about 30 people — half from law-enforcement agencies and half from social-service agencies — descended on a motel on Madison’s Far East Side.

With the manager’s permission, they knocked on 68 motel room doors. Inside, they found 22 homeless families, plus numerous homeless single people.

Of the 32 children the teams encountered, 25 needed to be registered for school. That work was done on the spot by three Madison School District employees.

The homeless adults were offered access to housing, food and employment resources, and thousands of dollars of donated items and gift cards were distributed. It was the second such effort, and another is planned for next month.

The initiative, called Operation Giving Hope, grew out of Madison Police Detective Maya Krajcinovic’s efforts to stop human sex trafficking. As her work took her to motels, she came into contact with a large number of homeless children.

“I was not ready for that,” she said. “It would be a gorgeous day outside, yet these kids would basically be stuck in a motel room because their parents were overwhelmed and didn’t know what to do.”

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