La Crosse organizations working to house the homeless

La Crosse organizations working to...

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - Some of La Crosse's homeless population is getting ready to move out of what has become known as tent city.

Earlier this month News 8 reported on the city's order to get people out of the area north of  Riverside Park in La Crosse.

People currently staying there have until the end of the month to pack up and leave.

Many of the people who are homeless at tent city have spent at least a total of three years living behind La Crosse's Riverside Park.

During my previous story I learned the city is planning for more developments near that area which makes for a safety hazard for those who are living there.

But the city also wants to break the cycle of homelessness and help people at tent city find housing and jobs.

About 25 people in La Crosse currently call this area along the river their home and some of them have been for years.

Area organizations are now stepping in to help people transition smoothly.

"You know we want to help shelter these people so whether that's coming here to stay at our shelter or being involved in our programs and services or meeting with case managers I mean over the past couple of months we've done a lot of outreach out there we've had case managers and staff go down there," said Nick Ragner, coordinator with the Salvation Army.

Ragner says their organization can serve up to 80 people who are looking for shelter on any given night.

But with tent city getting shut down, the demands will be higher.

"It's tough but it's definitely a challenge that's worthwhile you know a lot of people that are here I mean we're here for one common goal and that's to help provide those resources to those people that are otherwise maybe didn't expect that they could get it."

In an effort to help as many people find jobs and housing, Coulee Cap housing director Kim Cable says they're working with other agencies to conduct outreach visits to tent city.

They're hoping to get people to sign up for housing prioritization lists.

"We've developed a byname list of people who are out in tent city and we wanted to say in touch with them kind of track their progress through their housing searches or contact with other agencies."

Cable says the plans to help people transition out of homelessness are strategic and specific, but still, there are challenges.

"Every person is different, some people come with some backgrounds that are related to eviction history or maybe criminal backgrounds that make landlords weary of wanting to rent to somebody."

Agency leaders say the city is working on a diversion program so that if somebody does get ticketed if they don't leave the site, they can go to their court date and if they agree to work on a housing plan, their tickets will be dropped.


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