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City council approves more funding for outreach to homeless in La Crosse



La Crosse’s city council has approved more money to fund outreach for the homeless, but not without a good deal of discussion first.

The vote on Thursday was 10 to 3, in favor of providing $155,000 in ARPA money to existing outreach efforts.

The city’s homelessness coordinator, Brian Sampson, says the money should help give city officials a year to get a permanent plan into place.

“We have a hundred and 14 people on the streets in the city of La Crosse, and without a team like this, they’re out there without any ability, or with very limited ability to be connected to services,” Sampson told the council.

Council member Barb Janssen spoke for those who have opposed more city funding on homeless programs, saying others outside of City Hall also need to help people find housing.

“I also want to acknowledge the amount of money that our city has spent, whether it’s cleaning up parks, picking up piles of trash that have accumulated in various locations throughout our parks, on our trails,” said Janssen.

City employees cleared a winter’s worth of garbage and other items from Houska Park in the spring, and recently cleaned up Cameron Park after campers were asked to move from that site.

Another council member, Chris Woodard, expressed his frustration with the city’s inability to find more shelter for the homeless.

“We haven’t found the right idea to deal with them right now, and I think it’s time that we change paths and maybe say, hey, this hasn’t been working, and moving forward, we need to try something else,” he said.

City officials say money for the outreach coordinators would run out in January, if more funding was not approved.

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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  1. Dave

    August 10, 2023 at 9:59 pm

    So we can keep the two staff people employed for another year plus Sampson the homeless coordinator,three people full time and what good things or ideas have they accomplished in 2 years, Sampson has a five year plan that will keep HIM employed at least that long,lot of money spent on a bunch of clipboard holders

    • Pat

      August 11, 2023 at 9:23 am

      Well said finally someone starts calling these clowns out in city hall, they have zero intentions of doing anything, just look at the last couple of years, one term Mitch and his so called homeless coordinator are only looking out for themselves, it’s kinda funny they need a 5 year plan when the basic solution is right in front of them, they don’t want to solve anything just too much money at stake, at the end of their so called 5 year plan they will come up with another 5 year plan and the cycle starts all over again, and these clowns in city hall call themselves adults?

  2. Tom

    August 11, 2023 at 6:18 am

    What experience in homelessness do these people have? I do not believe they have the empathy for changing the situation. The blind leading the blind..

  3. nick

    August 11, 2023 at 6:33 am

    I have said this before and will say it again; there is no solution.
    California has spent over 20 Billion dollars in the last four years and the situation is worse. A survey was done in California and 55% of the homeless want to stay homeless

  4. Greg Symons

    August 11, 2023 at 6:52 am

    Two old proverbs come to mind on this issue. ” Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime” and ” You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink”. We’ve spent tons of money on “fish”, but little to none on teaching sustainability. But maybe it would be a waste of money anyway, because a large part of the homeless community will not “drink the water”. We have to enforce the laws on the books or remove those laws. I’m tired that we have a system that holds the “law keepers” to a higher standard than the “law breakers”.

  5. R head

    August 11, 2023 at 7:03 am

    What you need is a reach out program. Reach out and run them out run run them out off town! What happens when you run out free government money. The problem will still be there and the city will be S O L. Thank Mitch

  6. Teresa Page

    August 13, 2023 at 6:30 am

    Instead of paying city workers to clean up garbage, etc. why not have inmates do it or people that have community service to do? If the city builds a housing complex for homeless people, why not have the tenants also work at the site in exchange for rent? It’s worth a discussion, at least.

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