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Homeless being moved from La Crosse park to hotel rooms for winter shelter



Unsheltered people who have been camping in La Crosse’s Houska Park since the summer are being moved indoors this week, to a local hotel.

The city is using $700,000 in American Rescue Plan Act federal relief money to pay for rooms at the Econo Lodge, so unsheltered aren’t outdoors during winter.

It’s a short-term solution to a bigger local problem, according to La Crosse Mayor Mitch Reynolds.

“We have a shortage of housing in La Crosse and the surrounding region,” says Reynolds. “This is kind of a market solution to all this, you create more of a supply of housing, you decrease the pressure, the demand pressures that, for instance, the college students put on our market.”

Last week, one homeless woman, who had her identity stolen discussed on La Crosse Talk PM living in Houska Park and the plan by the city.

About 130 people in La Crosse have been identified as homeless this fall. The room rental at the Econolodge is scheduled to last into March.

The city began renting rooms for unsheltered people at the Econolodge last winter, partly because of a need for shelter during a peak period of the COVID pandemic.

Reynolds says some of the people who will be housed at the Econolodge during the cold weather are earning a living.

“A lot of individuals don’t have jobs, some of them do,” says the mayor. He says mental health and addiction also are factors which have forced some people into the streets and parks without shelter.

Reynolds was on La Crosse Talk PM early last week and spent the entire second half of the show on the homeless situation.

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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