In another step forward for community collaboration, the Human Services Department created a housing specialist position within the Salvation Army of La Crosse County’s Social Services team.
The designated staff member will work with clients to quickly identify housing options, develop a housing plan, and coordinate a move based on the client’s transition plan from shelter to affordable, permanent housing.
La Crosse County Human Services Director Jason Witt said often, individuals in emergency shelter at the Salvation Army will also receive assistance through Human Services such as support for mental health, substance abuse, parenting, employment, or other assistance.
“Individuals are often not able to focus on these other challenges when they are uncertain if they are going to have a roof over their heads in the coming week,” Witt said. “The process of finding housing and navigating the financial assistance that’s related to that can be intensive, can be complex, and can require a level of knowledge and expertise of community resources. Through this partnership, the Salvation Army now has someone who can focus solely on finding housing.”
Loretta LaPoint was selected for the housing specialist position and already began some of her duties acting as a liaison between residents and potential landlords. Social Services Director Krista Coey said before the job was introduced, many of their shelter staff and case managers would spend hours on housing efforts, which took away from the amount of time they could spend working toward client goals.
“This position allows me to do that,” LaPoint said. “We can take our time to go through the application process. I can be that person that is communicating with landlords on their behalf and advocating for them, maybe break down some of those barriers that potential landlords may have. We want them to have an affordable and nice place to live and take the stigma off of them coming out of shelter.”
She noted one of the largest challenges in the county is affordable housing for their clients. She shelter serves individuals and families who need assistance.
Prior to this role, LaPoint worked as an intake advocate.