A continuing pandemic, cold nights and a tough economy have led many people in La Crosse to a downtown warming center this winter.
Many of those people seeking shelter will get to stay at the EconoLodge on Rose Street, through a program approved by the county board.
Some county board members voiced concern at a meeting Thursday night about the $300,000 cost of the contract with EconoLodge. FEMA is expected to fully repay the county for that cost.
EconoLodge contracted with La Crosse County to provide up to 55 rooms, through April 15 at $60 per room a day.
The motel has also taken in people who need to be isolated because of COVID-19, but county supervisor Kim Cable said both they and the homeless can get rooms.
“The confusion here is that those rooms are just for isolation, and they’re not,” Cable said. “They’re also sheltering families who would be out in the cold if they didn’t have a place to go.”
Assistant county administrator Jane Klekamp says other local sources are helping.
“Salvation Army is staffing the shelter downtown and another hotel with families in it,” she said. “And Catholic Charities is also staffing the EconoLodge.”
The same motel was used for sheltering the homeless during several weeks last fall.