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.