La Crosse group sets new goal to house veterans, chronically homeless people

La Crosse group sets new goal to house veterans, chronically homeless people

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - After a La Crosse-based collaboration met its goal of rapidly housing 10 homeless families, organizers are setting their sights on helping two new populations. The organization's newest goal is to house all veterans and chronically homeless people in our area. 

The "La Crosse Collaborative to End Homelessness" has a lot of local partners, but this time group leaders are teaming up with a national movement. At the beginning of January, the collaborative joined the "Built for Zero Movement" by the organization Community Solutions.

"It's a national initiative, primarily focused on reaching 'functional zero' for the veteran population and the chronically homeless," said Kim Cable, the steering committee chair for the collaborative.

'Functional zero' means they're trying to place more people in housing than are going into a local shelter. 

"It means that we're placing them really quickly when somebody is starting to experience a homeless episode," Cable said.  

They did this at the end of 2016, when all homeless veterans they were able to identify were placed in permanent housing. 

"One step is to achieve zero, but the next step is to sustain it," said Julie McDermid, program manager for the La Crosse Collaborative to End Homelessness. 

Because they're now part of the initiative, they'll be able to go to multiple 'Built for Zero' conferences. Once there, they'll exchange ideas on how to address the issue with leaders from 80 communities. 

"But we also have group coaching calls through out the year, we do web conferencing and we have an individual coach," McDermid said.  

With these additional resources, they hope to place people in permanent housing within 30 days of their arrival to area shelters. 

"[That's] much different than what's actually going on in our community now where it some times takes longer than that to get somebody into housing," Cable said. 

The group is hoping to have accomplished its goal of functional zero by the end of 2020. 

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