La Crosse motel may become temporary housing for homeless through October

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — A local motel is housing a vulnerable population to keep them safe from COVID-19.  The EconoLodge on Rose Street may become temporary housing to more of the homeless population if the County Board votes in favor of entering an agreement.

“The county’s been working closely for quite some time with the Coulee Collaborative to End Homelessness and they’ve identified the risk that homeless have in relation to a potential exposure to COVID,” said Steve O’Malley, the La Crosse County Administrator.

O’Malley says there have been about 12 rooms at the EconoLodge that have been housing some of the homeless population to keep them safe from COVID-19.

Those helping out with the effort are trying to extend the amount of time the homeless can stay, and the occupancy of the motel.

“We’re asking the board to enter into an agreement through the end of October to provide that service, thanks to the owners of the EconoLodge,” said O’Malley.

The housing would extend to October 31, just before the warming center opens on November 1.

The groups are looking to rent out the entire motel, which is about 65 rooms.

“What we’re interested in is voluntary testing, voluntary housing, to help the homeless through this time to help protect their safety,” said O’Malley.

The lodging would be paid for with money from the C.A.R.E.S Act. For those interested in the temporary housing, O’Malley encourages them to contact the Coulee Collaborative, or any organization involved with the effort.

“Catholic Charities workers will be in touch with them,” said O’Malley.  “They can either call the Catholic Charities number or they can also call the Health Department and we’ll make the referrals.”

O’Malley said the La Crosse County Board votes on the extension on Thursday the 17th.