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City committee endorses funding for winter shelter for La Crosse’s homeless



The city of La Crosse took a step forward Thursday to find winter housing for people who have been living outdoors and in public spaces.

The city’s Finance and Personnel Committee unanimously approved a resolution to pay for temporary shelter through March.

The funding proposal calls on the city to spend up to $700,000 on that winter housing, from federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding. The resolution goes to the full council next week.

Many unsheltered people have been staying at Houska Park, because the city designated that area as a site where they could live.

Mayor Mitch Reynolds, however, wants it known that the city did not directly move those people to Houska.

“What the city did under my direction was to create a safe and stable environment in Houska Park, or safe-ish … where people could live and not be harassed, and not be kicked out of public places or from private yards or entities,” Reynolds said during the public meeting. “That’s what the city did. The city did not move anyone anywhere.”

When asked by one committee member why the issue hasn’t been acted on until November, Reynolds admitted that planning for winter housing has gone “more slowly than anticipated.”

“Admittedly, a very late-in-the-game effort to try to rectify some of the failings that we’ve had to fully address this situation,” Reynolds said. “That doesn’t mean that we haven’t been working on this.”

He added that the homeless issue has been his top priority since becoming mayor in April.

The committee also approved a renewal of the WisCorps lease on the Myrick Park Center for the next 10 years. WisCorps would like to make capital improvements in the building near the marsh.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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