LA CROSSE, Wis. -

It's a problem that's taken center stage in La Crosse since the mayoral election, revitalizing the city's neighborhoods.

Now a city program that builds new homes, could soon expand.

The city's main home replacement program buys old, broken down homes across the city, tears them down and builds brand new ones in their place.

They're then sold to people who meet the income qualifications.

City Planning Department Director Larry Krich said the program helps raise the tax base but more importantly, serves as a way to make La Crosse a better place to live.

Melvin Woods is looking forward to having some new neighbors move in across the street from him on Ferry Street in La Crosse.

"They redo the house and make it ready for hopefully a family to move in and you know, the more families the better," said Woods.

The home was built by the city as part of the home replacement program.

It's one of more than 30 the city has built since 1997, all with the goal of fixing up neighborhoods and increasing the value of the area.

"We have 1,000 housing units in the city valued below $50,000. We're the third oldest city in the state of Wisconsin. So we have housing stock built in the late 1800s and some of it was modest to begin with, so it's wearing out. So we feel it's key to recycle that housing stock for community redevelopment to help restore and rebuild the tax base in the city," said Kirch.

It's an effort the city could soon be able to ramp up, thanks to more than $2 million coming from TIF district money, state and federal funds.

"I think we're looking at over the course of the next year, to have anywhere from 10 to 15 houses under construction," said Kirch.

And while some efforts depend on brand-new funding every year, Kirch said this one helps run itself.

"They're monies that get recycled because when we sell a house, we get income, so over the next several years, we can pool all this money," said Kirch.

More money, to build more houses, to give more people a place to call home, in a city Woods loves.

"The only thing that would make me move is if I got employment outside of this area, but other than that we're going to say here," said Woods.

The Housing Rehab Board met this afternoon and approved the use of the $2 million.

The mayor is asking the committee to have a presentation ready for City Council this August.