La Crosse’s common council votes against the purchase of a building for affordable housing

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — The City of La Crosse’s common council has voted against the purchase of the former Marine Credit Union headquarters for affordable housing.

In a 6-7 vote, the common council voted against the purchase of the building for 30 affordable housing units. The decision took over one hour to make and many council members raised concerns over the use of $2.6 million of American Rescue Plan Act funds.

Tensions were high at La Crosse’s common council meeting.

“We’ve been discussing this for how long?” said council member Andrea Richmond, at the meeting.

“I don’t care if it’s the southside, northside, it’s just a bad financial decision,” said said council member Scott Neumeister, at the meeting.

In a 6-7 vote, the council voted against purchasing the building on Monitor Street and renovating it into roughly 30 affordable housing units.

Last month, the decision to purchase the building was approved by the City of La Crosse’s Finance and Personnel Committee.

“I think it would be an awesome asset to the neighborhood on the Northside,” said council president Barb Janssen.

The city would have spent roughly $2.6 million dollars of American Rescue Plan Act funds to purchase the building – a decision met with criticism from some council members.

“Maybe spend that funding we did allocate for the unsheltered, on the unsheltered,” said council member Chris Kahlow, at the meeting.

Neumeister said using the city’s entire ARPA funds allocated for affordable housing on a 30-unit building was a bad decision.

“We have residents at Houska Park that need somewhere to stay and we vowed to try to help them and we’re wiping out our funding for that. There’s no more coming in, people. There just isn’t,” he said.

The city has to designate the use of the ARPA funds by Dec. 2024 and use them by Dec. 2026.

The city did approve to rezone the building. If a developer wants to purchase the building and designate for affordable housing, they have the ability to do so.

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