Preliminary data shows homeless count down in La Crosse

Data from point-in-time count

To get a more accurate picture of the number of homeless in La Crosse, overnight, local organizations and volunteers did what they call a “point-in-time count.”

It’s a snapshot into the lives of the homeless in La Crosse.

This point-in-time count is done twice a year, once in January and once in July.

Volunteers spend the night counting the people they find living on the streets.

At 3:30 a.m., La Crosse neighborhood resource officer Joel Miller was out with several volunteers.

“What I did see a few people huddled up in parks and in benches,” Miller said.

The goal of the count is to try to gain better insight into the life of La Crosse’s homeless.

“The number of people I saw was lower than expected,” Miller said.

Organizers said this year’s point-in-time report is showing a significant shift in homeless populations in the La Crosse area.

“About this time last year, we counted, I think, around 50 people outdoors,” Kim Cable, housing and community services director for CouleeCap, said. “Right now, with our initial counts, and keep in mind we are going to continue to count today and tomorrow, we’re at about 25. So about half, which I think shows tremendous progress.”

Since last year, the La Crosse Collaborative to End Homelessness has completed nearly two 100-day sprints, targeting specific groups of homeless populations.

“Through those efforts alone, we’ve housed close to almost 30 people, which, I mean, is no small feat,” Cable said.

Last month, the city also closed a popular homeless campsite called “tent city,” which officials also believe contributed to the lower numbers.

“We actually went down to tent city today and found no one down there. I can’t tell you what a great feeling that was,” Cable said.

Even for an officer who spends most of his days on the streets of La Crosse, this event is an eye-opening experience.

“Being out, doing outreach and doing things like this point-in-time count has been really beneficial and a growth experience,” Miller said.

The second 100-day sprint for the collaborative ends Friday.

The goal is to end chronic homelessness.

Officials said they expect to house 17 individuals by the end of Thursday, a little short of their goal of 20.

Officials said they are still pleased with the progress they’ve made.