City of La Crosse committee OKs spending up to $700,000 in rescue money to house homeless temporarily

Finance and Personnel vote sends resolution to Common Council
Houska 2
The city has moved many homeless individuals who had been camping at Houska Park in La Crosse to an Econo Lodge on the North Side. (News 8 Now photo)

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — A city of La Crosse committee approved a resolution Thursday night to use up to $700,000 from the federal American Rescue Plan Act to provide temporary winter shelter for homeless individuals.

The Finance and Personnel Committee resolution, which stipulates the “not-to-exceed amount for the use of temporary winter shelter and operations during the months of November 2021 through March 2022,” now advances to the Common Council.

City staffers have determined that rooms are available to rent and $700,000 from the American Rescue Plan can be used “to rent available rooms for unsheltered individuals.”

“The city of La Crosse has never taken a leadership role in providing such assistance,” said Mayor Mitch Reynolds, adding that conditions require action on the “extremely difficult task.”

“Temporarily, we’re going to save lives,” he said. “We’re gonna prevent hypothermia.”
Meanwhile, Reynolds said, he is working with county officials on a long-term solution to homelessness.

Unprecedented numbers of homeless people are living on the street, said Kim Cable, housing and family services director at Couleecap Inc. who spoke in favor of the resolution.

“It’s double what I’ve seen in 15 years” of working on housing issues, Cable said.
Common Council members MacKenzie Mindel and Andrea Richmond sponsored the resolution at the meeting, which took place in-person at the Southside Neighborhood Center and virtually. Technical issues created gaps in the committee’s discussions for those watching virtually.

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