La Crosse officials have worked for decades to revitalize neighborhoods across the city, and one effective tool they’re using involves flipping run-down apartments into new homes for families.
The program is called the House Replacement Project, and it’s one of several affordable housing programs city planners are using to not only provide homes for qualified-income families, but to also clean up neighborhoods riddled with blighted buildings.
“We’re focusing our efforts block by block and making people want to live in these neighborhoods again,” said Community Development Administrator Caroline Neilsen.
The city has recently focused its revitalization efforts on the Powell-Hood-Hamilton Neighborhood, where Neilsen said planners have already demolished several dilapidated apartment buildings and replaced them with five homes. A sixth is currently for sale and is being spotlighted in the La Crosse Parade of Homes.
Jacque Holmes has lived in the neighborhood for 47 years, and she says the city’s efforts in the community have made a visible difference.
“It’s a difference between day and night,” she said. “There’s no comparison to what it was before.”
Holmes said the new homes brought young families and fresh faces into her neighborhood.
“Before, we had a lot of people that didn’t stay,” Holmes said. “[Now,] I get along with my neighbors. That lady across the street has three girls, she’s got grandchildren that are there. I have a young couple next door. We all get along.”
Since the program’s inception in 1994, the city has built and sold 40 homes. Three are currently up for sale, and Neilsen says she expects at least 20 more to be constructed in the next few years.