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La Crosse mayor identifies more buildings that could shelter homeless this winter

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More publicly-owned buildings in La Crosse could be used this winter to provide shelter for people who have been camping at Houska Park, or living on the streets of the city.

During an event outside City Hall Wednesday morning, Mayor Mitch Reynolds identified the north side police building, the Southside Neighborhood Center, and the Green Island ice arena as sites where unsheltered people might stay after camping at Houska Park ends for the season in late October.

FILE – A tent with a tarp sits behind the Houska Park sign in La Crosse in late October of 2021. (PHOTO: Rick Solem)

Reynolds also said some housing could be provided at the Marine Credit Union building on Monitor Street, which the city is trying to buy for general housing needs.

“We are looking at options, long-term. They all involve adding housing,” says the mayor. “Affordable housing, transitional housing. Housing, housing, housing. That is what we’re doing. That is our long-term solution.”

Reynolds says there is potential for a state of emergency to be called in the city, to find housing for the unsheltered, and he is ready to issue such a decree “when necessary.” He called on property owners to consider taking in the unsheltered, noting that city council president Barb Janssen is housing two families at properties she owns in La Crosse.

“As long as I am mayor of the city of La Crosse, we will not criminalize homelessness, ” Reynolds says. “That will not be something that we do.”

“(If) people in this community want to criminalize homelessness, they gotta get rid of me first,” says the mayor.

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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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Doug Allen

    September 28, 2022 at 1:02 pm

    I applaud you mayor Reynolds I have an int4 in the homeless i Vernon County & helping them find resources as far as I know there are no shelters around here to house the homeless & there is not many resources available in Vernon county but I want to start a homeless ministry here in Viroqua. to reach out to the homeless they need our help so far there are no homeless in my area according to the local county police

  2. Angie

    September 28, 2022 at 4:59 pm

    This is a great idea and a good start! Iam terrified of what will only get worse with today’s economy. My own brother Robert Ludke was found this last March 16, 2022 frozen to death and trying to heat a tent with a make shift heater and succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning. This occurred in Black River Falls. Our family had no idea he was living homeless. He lead us to believe he was fine. He died alone and freezing. His friends other homeless stole his belongs before reporting his death. This is a nightmare iam afraid it’s only the beginning the struggles are real. We are still struggling with expenses ourselves and trying to pay funeral expenses of 1930.yet. Thank you LaCrosse for starting and loving our human families.

  3. Rhead

    September 29, 2022 at 8:37 am

    Mitch has a problem with the homeless it like when you step in a some dog shit and you can’t shack it off your shoe

  4. Colleen LeBlanc

    September 29, 2022 at 3:33 pm

    Homelessness IS a significant COMPLEX community problem. However, we can’t ignore it. It won’t just disappear. No, we don’t need to enable them but they are human beings and it’s going to get freezing cold. I’m glad Mayor Reynolds wants to address it, bring resources together and try to find some solutions. Being homeless is NOT a crime. I’m pleased he said that. Thank you Mitch Reynolds. I support your position.

  5. Kent Porter

    September 29, 2022 at 5:22 pm

    AS I SEE IT ; Mayor Mitch Reynolds has kicked this homeless can down the road for 2 years now , shelling out over 2 million dollars in COIVID RELIEF MONEY , That was supposed to help WORKING FAMILY’S AND BUSSINESS’S struggling in hard times , Now what are you going to do MAYOR MITCH , It is clear this Mayor is not doing a good job , Write in Kent Porter (MAYOR OF THE NORTH SIDE)for Mayor in 2025 I WILL FIX THE PROBLEMS This Mayor will not , Another Liberal Mayor with no clue , When I am Mayor I will donate my pay to Veterans and homeless VETERANS , Not drug addicts and alcoholics that don’t whant to work for a living !!!!!!!!!!!

    • Ryan Harris

      September 30, 2022 at 9:20 pm

      I’m currently at the salvation army. I’m not a drug addict. Your awfully naive I’d you think your VETERANS pictures of sobriety. I’d rather shelter a drug addict than an asshole like you.

  6. The truth

    October 3, 2022 at 10:48 am

    The police are devil worshipers who worked with corrupt businesses to traffic homeless people who to increase profits for Kwik Trip and fuel their hunger for human organs.

  7. Rosenda machen

    October 15, 2022 at 5:41 pm

    Thank you so much for putting this idea into action! I really think that this insurance will really open up some opportunities for people who are working really hard to turn their lives around. I know I’ve accidentally screwed over a few landlords who took a chance on me when my life was a mess- I feel awful about the one guy. I too really think that having a case manager & having accountability as well as goals to work twords will really help everyone… It does seem like la crosse is wasting a lot of time & money – this could be fixed if we set up tiny house villages- home Depot has she sheds that could easily be renovated into living spaces. We could also set up something where we build them ourselves, as a community, and partner with habitat for humanity, justice santioned and the community- we could put solar panels on the roof to create our own electricity, and each resident could either pay a small fee or work on person specific goals in exchange for rent… We could easily have a build-a-thon & give away a she shed as a raffle prize to community members that help build… I have many more ideas with this- please contact me for more information – I’ve given this much thought & can provide real world working examples of programs that would really nip the homeless problem in the bud real quick. My ideas would bring in money ( possibly more than the problem is costing) and significant respect if implemented correctly. The econologe could have been an amazing program, had it been handled correctly… That is not the fault if the city- it is the fault of the people ” running” it… I hope someday we bring in different management & give it another try…

  8. LE ANNE MARTINEZ

    November 11, 2022 at 3:28 pm

    We need not wait till shelters are at full capacity until the Mayor calls for a Emergency Decree. This filling the 2 shelters is a night by night thing. You just don’t know , again a night by night thing. People have been freezing days n
    & nights!! FREEZING!!! I advocate, support the best I can, along with some others for my homeless community.
    Most of our unsheltered will not stay due to past issues possibly or turned away to “nowhere”!! How do you put a night by night, filling 2 shelters in real time..you can not!! The Emergency Decree needs to be Ordered!!! Like as of October 31, 2022 or Nov. 1, 2022. The sad thing about this is…yes, they will have a nice warm to stay/sleep BUT COME ABOUT 7:00am to 8:30am..THEY GET KICKED OUT “TO NOWHERE” EVERY MORNING.. TO GO THE MAIN LIBRARY TO POSSIBLY KWIK TRIPS,SOME PLACES IN HOPES TO WARM UP!! THIS IS ABSOULUTELY ABSURD!! NOW, IF I HAD A PET, LEFT IT OUTSIDE IN AWFUL HOT, HUMID, OR FREEZING COLD WEATHER, NO FOOD NO WATER..DAMN WELL BET I WLD HAVE A KNOCK ON MY DOORBY POLICE, PROBABLY ANIMAL CONTROL/RESUCE ARRESTED FOR ANIMAL ABUSE, GO TO COURT, POSSIBLE JAIL & FINED. THESE ARE HUMAN BEINGS!! THEY ARE AFFORDED THE EXACT BASIC RIGHTS AS ANY ONE OF US DO…A HOME, SAFE, FOOD, CLOTHING ECT. ALOT OF PEOPLE OUTHERE THAT MAKE RUDE, UN CALLED FOR NAMES, COMMENTS,ABOUT OUR HOMELESS TRADE A WHOLE 24 HOURS WITH THEM..YOU WLD THINK TWICE. YES, THERE IS ALOT OF MENTAL ILLNESSES & OR SUBSTANCE ABUSE..IT IS VERY SAD TO SAY THE LEAST. A PERSON CAN ONLY IMAGINE WHAT IT WLD BE LIKE TO LIVE LIKE MANY OF OUR UNSHELTERED FRIENDS. BE PART OF THE SOLUTION,NOT THE PROBLEM, VOLUNTEER, GET INVOLED IN HELPING!! THE BEST THING YOU CAN GIVE TO A PER ST ON IS….”THE GIFT OF YOURSELF”

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