Grant means families will have home for holidays

La Crosse Community Foundation gives New Horizons transitional housing program six extra months

As the holidays approach and the weather gets colder, having a place to call home is more important than ever. But for a number of families who are making the transition from living in a situation with domestic abuse, keeping a roof over their heads was a big uncertainty.

Ornaments, bells and wreaths all make for a merry Christmas. But if you ask New Horizons executive director Ann Kappauf what the most important part of the holidays is, she’ll say it’s the home where those decorations reside.

“I’ve been here for 12 years. This is the first time we’re ever had a waiting list (for the shelter),” Kappauf said. “So with a need for shelter increasing, the need for permanent housing after they leave shelter is increasing.”

Over the past three years, a federal grant of about $300,000 dollars allowed New Horizons to offer nine apartments to domestic abuse victims and their families as they search for permanent housing.

But this year, the organization had to make some transitions of its own, when Kappauf found out in October that they won’t be receiving federal money for the next three years.

“That meant a displacement of about six families from our transitional housing program,” she said.

Kappauf gave the La Crosse Community Foundation a call, and they decided to give New Horizons $44,000, which is enough to keep families in all the apartments for the next six months

“We’re super glad they were there to reach out. Otherwise I’d have to tell six people before the holidays that they need to find other housing,” Kappauf said.

“They’ll have a place to call home as we approach the holiday season, and it will give them the time they need to work on their self-sufficiency plan,” La Crosse Community Foundation program director Jamie Schloegel said.

The early Christmas gift also gives New Horizons time to work on their plan, searching for permanent funding to continue the transitional housing program. Kappauf said they’re researching and applying for other grants.

In the meantime, the six families will have homes for the holidays.

“It means everything,” Kappauf said.