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Local landlords join collaborative to house the homeless

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - At even given moment, it can be easy to spot La Crosse's homeless population. 

Because many of them, even with jobs, are having a tough time finding affordable housing and landlords who are flexible, despite a rocky rental history or criminal background. 

It's been a long-time challenge for organizations like Coulee Cap, who are doing what they can to get people off the streets. 

But director Kim Cable says they're just one piece of that puzzle. 

"We didn't have a way to really recruit landlords on a wider scale basis."

Over the last year, Coulee Cap has been working to recruit area landlords to create a project for landlords to come together and be a part of the mission to end homelessness. 

But finding landlords who are willing to cooperate, can be tricky. 

"Maybe taking a risk on somebody who's had a poor rental history and wondering how they're going to get their rent paid, you know there is concern about potential damages that are caused," Cable said.

However Coulee Cap has found a way to help encourage more landlords to help.

Each homeless person or family who is placed in housing, has a case manager who landlords can call if there are any issues or concerns. 

A double security deposit and rent for up to 18 months, are also included in the deal. 

Landlord Ben Tippetts, who owns apartments on French Island, was hesitant at first, but decided he wanted to be a part of the solution. 

"It's a great feeling you know that I've helped somebody get out of the cold and especially this time of the year, it's not a great time to be living outside in Wisconsin so it's a great feeling to help out those individuals."

"You know you have that understanding that people are going to come to you with barriers and I think landlords who can buy into our philosophy and the work that we're trying to do here in the community, those are the best landlords to work with," Cable said.

Last month, the La Crosse Collaborative to End Homelessness identified 15 homeless families in the area.

Their goal was to house at least 10 of those families and in a matter of weeks, they've already housed five.

The collaborative is now working with about 20 landlords in the area and they are hoping to reach their goal of housing the five remaining families by the end of the year. 

Landlords who want to help are invited to a breakfast at the Cargill room in La Crosse at 8 a.m. on November 28th.

More information can be found on www.endhomelessnesslacrosse.org

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