ReNEW gears up to fix up Powell-Hood-Hamilton houses
Powell-Hood-Hamilton is one of the most historic neighborhoods in La Crosse.
Almost half its housing stock was built before 1940, and much of it was built inexpensively.
Powell-Hood-Hamilton is bordered by Green Bay Street to the south, West Avenue to the east, Jackson Street to the north and Third Street and South Avenue to the west.
Now a new program is gearing up to fix up the houses lining the neighborhood's streets.
To call Andrew Londre's house a "fixer-upper" would be putting it lightly.
"This is an example of what happens when you've got somebody who owns a property for a certain amount of time and just doesn't care about it," said Londre.
That's exactly why he bought it. The vice-chair of the Powell-Hood-Hamilton Neighborhood Association and county board member has been making it over for the past year.
Now, the two sides of the corner house that face the street are painted a fresh buttery yellow. The lead paint on the back half of the house is peeling.
Londre hopes to have the late-1800s home in shape within a year.
"With my passion for neighborhood revitalization, I really wanted to inspire the rest of the neighborhood, to show them that this can be done," said Londre.
His neighborhood is full of historic homes just like his.
They've got a lot of potential; some of them just need a little elbow grease.
Now 20 of them are going to get a face-lift within a month’s time, thanks to a project called ReNEW.
It stands for Revitalizing Neighborhood Empowerment With Powell-Hood-Hamilton.
"We're going to do everything from landscaping outside houses to applying paint where needed,” said Londre. “Some people [may] have a porch or steps that are falling apart. And everything else is nice, but those steps that are falling apart really make the rest of the property look really bad."
The project is a partnership between Couleecap, Habitat for Humanity, the Powell-Hood-Hamilton Neighborhood Association, WisCorps, the City of La Crosse, the Neighborhood Revitalization Commission, La Crosse County, Viterbo University, UW-La Crosse and Gundersen Lutheran.
ReNEW coordinator Amanda Acklin said the organizations working together on the project have tens of thousands of dollars in grants to spend on it.
"The city, the county, Gundersen, Habitat for Humanity, Couleecap all were doing separate projects,” said Acklin. “So it kind of sparked from that and just turned into a project where everybody's partnering together."
Londre said the results of that partnership will help show the neighborhood for what it really is.
“There are some houses that need a little love and care. But once we take care of that stuff, people are going to realize that this is a really great neighborhood -- and it is. And we're just making it better," said Londre.
Acklin said ReNEW is really about taking the neighbors-helping-neighbors idea to a new level, so they're looking for a lot of volunteers to pitch in next month.
Volunteers do not have to be Powell-Hood-Hamilton residents to volunteer, but only residents of that neighborhood can apply to have parts of their homes fixed up.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 608-782-5525.
ReNEW's monthlong effort will kick off with a picnic at Place of Grace on Sunday, May 5. There will be ongoing revitalization projects through the rest of the month, ending with a big volunteer day on Sunday, June 2.
Organizers hope the ReNEW program will spread to other neighborhoods in the community in the long run.
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