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Collaborative finding housing for homeless veterans in La Crosse

Six veterans have been placed in housing since last month

Collaborative finding housing for homeless veterans in La Crosse

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - Last month, La Crosse's Collaborative to End Homelessness launched a goal to end veteran homelessness by Christmas of this year.

The Collaborative is made up of organizations such as CouleeCap, the Salvation Army, and the VA.

Its first goal is to end veteran homelessness in 100 days.

It is hoping to use success stories, like that of Scott Johnston, to further help veterans find permanent housing.

Johnston is proud to show you his new digs.

"I got set up with dishes, I got set up with bedding," he said.

But his story hasn't always been easy.

"It was recently that I was homeless. Few months back I had lost a job," Johnston said.

Leaving him with little options.

"(I was) anxious. (I had) a lot of anxiety. Really didn't sleep a lot," Johnston said. "It put me on the other side of the fence to see what homeless people go through."

Agencies like CouleeCap and the Department of Veterans Affairs are now all working together in the Collaborative, working quickly in the last several weeks to get La Crosse veterans like Johnston in homes by Christmas.

"We've placed six -- six out of the original 12 on the list. Another one goes in on Nov. 1," veterans outreach specialist Gerold Sieren said.

But officials warn as the Collaborative continues to identify homeless veterans in La Crosse, there's still plenty of work to be done.

"Our job just doesn't end with these 12," Sieren said.

Part of that work is making sure landlords in La Crosse jump on board with the initiative.

"Some have shady rental history. Some have evictions. Some have a not-so-good criminal background like disorderly conduct and DUIs," Sieren said. "So it's basically asking these landlords to give these guys a second chance."

Johnston says the new place is a welcome change.

"It's awesome -- the program and the people in the program have helped me immensely," he said.

And thanks to the Collaborative, he has a whole new outlook on life.

"Don't look at everything as the glass is half empty, look at the glass as 3/4 full, and its just filling up," he said.

There's an update to the story we brought to you yesterday about the roughly 50 homeless veterans losing their housing at the Tomah VA.

The Tomah VA and the Veterans Assistance Foundation are finding housing for those displaced veterans in Union Grove, King, and Chippewa Falls Wisconsin.

The remainder of the Veterans hoping to stay in the area are working with members of the Collaborative, hoping to find housing options near here.

The La Crosse Collaborative to End Homelessness is hosting two meetings for landlords to learn more information.

The first is tomorrow at the Community Policing Center Station No. 2 from 6:30-9 p.m.

The second is next Thursday in the third-floor conference room at City Hall at the same time.

We'd also like to let you know about a Homeless Veteran Stand Down event going on Thursday.

The Tomah VA and other organizations will be on hand to provide employment services, toiletries, and housing referrals.

It's going on Thursday at Logistics Health Inc. from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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