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Finding shelter for homeless goal of La Crosse city, county leaders ahead of winter



La Crosse city and county officials discussed options for sheltering homeless people during the cold weather months at a meeting Monday.

Brian Sampson, the city’s homelessness coordinator, and La Crosse County human services director Jason Witt spoke with about 25 people during the group discussion.

Sampson said a severe weather site should be announced soon.

“For the severe weather events, we’ll have a location where people can go during the day to get out of the elements,” Sampson said, after a public discussion of homeless policies at the Main in La Crosse. “We’re finalizing the details on that plan, and we’ll be sharing that once a location and staffing and all that stuff is known.”

For part of last winter, the southside neighborhood center was used as an emergency shelter when temperatures dropped below zero.

At last count, 114 people in La Crosse were unsheltered.

There are no plans to send homeless to hotels. That was done two years ago because COVID-19 caused shelters to run at minimal capacity, so space was limited.

The city and county announced last summer that they’re working on a five-year plan to find local solutions with the end goal of getting homelessness down to functional zero.

“We’ve started that process in September,” Sampson said, “as far as community planning with the goal of having a five-year plan to end homelessness completed by the end of 2023 and then to begin implementation. So we’re just sharing about what that process looks like.”

The REACH Services and Resource Center, at the YWCA in La Crosse, is available to connect families to housing and other services they made need.

“The plan will look like it did last winter,” Sampson said. “So, there’s a team at the REACH Center that’s available for families and individuals. If they want to get connected to case management services, that’s every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Obviously the REACH Center can help you get connected to services at any point, but that’s specifically, multiple agencies that are there.”

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. R head

    October 24, 2023 at 1:19 pm

    The homeless don’t want homes put them on a bus and send them out of town,maybe Minnesota there they can get all the drugs they want!!!!!!!!

    • Nicole Seago-Yutuc

      October 24, 2023 at 8:15 pm

      Agreed. They don’t want homes, they don’t want jobs. We take care of them, so they stay.

    • Jana

      October 24, 2023 at 10:20 pm

      Why do you think the homeless don’t want homes! Do you want your home? Yes,you do! Our united states constitution said its inhumane for the people of this country to be without a hoke. It states every indidual has the right to safe and liveable housing. God forbid sir,that you or someone you love may fall on hard times and lose everything. And it’s ignorant of you to assume ALL homeless are drunks or drug addicts. Some become drug addicts long after becoming homeless. Another ignorant statement is you think they can just be shipped off to Minnesota?! Whose going to pay to ship them off and where exactly are they to be dropped off at? I assume you don’t want your tax dollars being used to help house the homeless am I correct? Well whose money do you think would be used to ship them out of LaCrosse? My good sir it would be your tax dollars. Do you get to tell the government how to use your tax dollars anyway? No you don’t! So pay your taxes and let the people who actually have a heart take care of concerning ourselves with the plight of the homeless. You don’t care about them,your negativity shows no sympathy,therefore keep your opinions on subjects you actually have some valuable input to share!

      • Bob N.

        October 25, 2023 at 7:31 am

        I like Jana’s virtue signaling. She and the others like her are the compassionate ones, the rest of us are cave men. Enablers like Jana, in their zeal for recognition, spend on vagrants until they run out of other people’s money.

        • Walden

          October 25, 2023 at 7:49 pm

          Was Jana virtue signaling or “triggered”? Or both?

      • walden

        October 25, 2023 at 7:40 pm

        Jana, can you please provide citation for where it says in the Constitution that “every individual has a right to safe and liveable housing.”

        I am sure you are well intentioned but you cannot just make stuff up and then lecture people based on your fiction.

  2. Kent Porter

    October 24, 2023 at 1:49 pm

    Maybe they can stay by Brian Sampson for the winter

    • Yvonne

      October 24, 2023 at 8:39 pm

      The ‘bigger’problem is drugs and mental illness. Most are using cocaine, shooting up/smoking dope and that’s why it’s so out of control here and most LIBERAL towns and cities. They get way too many freebies, so why would they move on? The Mayor is useless as a leader here.
      La Crosse has never addressed the DRUG PROBLEM with these homeless people. 10-15 years ago we didn’t have them here in La Crosse.

      • JB

        October 24, 2023 at 10:31 pm

        We did have homeless on drugs in lacrosse. I was one of them. I got off the streets and have gotten on my feet but the resources aren’t there as soon as we all would like. It’s not as simple as you think. The housing waiting lists are long and on average it takes 3 years to get to the top of the list and be housed. There’s always been drug problems and homeless. It just wasn’t as in your face as it was back then. There was more emergency shelter available as well as day shelters which we no longer have. Once i got housing I began to read about homelessness and have become an advocate to help them but to also educate those who are misinformed.

      • B-doe

        October 25, 2023 at 3:55 am

        What freebees?

    • Jack Meehoff

      October 24, 2023 at 9:07 pm

      La Crosse has become a bastchin of socialism. No wonder we have half way houses on every corner. SMH how quickly this town decended.

      • Mike Hochertz

        October 27, 2023 at 12:18 pm

        Hey Jack

        I couldn’t agree with you more. There are a bunch of strokes on here that are “free thinking” and want to spend money of the working people on the people with their hands out. It is a choice of the people that are on drugs.

  3. Derek Joseph janidlo

    October 24, 2023 at 4:58 pm

    I have no sympathy for the one’s that do not want to help them selves. I experienced first hand, working at the Salvation Army lunch window. My frustration and lack of accountability led me to resign from the one thing I believed in, for I was once homeless. I was spat at, verbally abused and threatened. Now I have no sympathy….

  4. Shawn

    October 24, 2023 at 6:30 pm

    Maybe a little compassion would go a long way. Lumping every unsheltered person into one group is very prejudicial and judgemental. Each one of us is potentially only one major financial crisis away from being homeless ourselves.

  5. Robinhood

    October 24, 2023 at 9:34 pm

    Maybe make them do Community Services where ever the City needs to have clean up and do things around the city. Painting, Trash pick up on the interstates, etc. Make them work for the freebies. They can’t just sit around and expect everybody to support them.
    There are jobs out there. Their just choosing to not work.
    Enough is enough.

    • K. Sanborn

      October 25, 2023 at 4:22 am

      I agree with this,
      No more freebies, unless you show you deserve it.

  6. Jana

    October 24, 2023 at 10:23 pm

    Brad Williams,
    Why is the photo above used in nearly every news story on this website in regards to the homeless? Don’t you think it perpetuates the stigma of the homeless? Drug overdose is not the only way light should be shed on this unhoused community.

    • SD

      October 25, 2023 at 11:28 am

      I agree. It’s dehumanizing and doesn’t support the whole story.

      • Bob N.

        October 26, 2023 at 1:40 pm

        Looks like just another day at Cameron Park to me. At least no one is defecating in the grass.

      • Mike Hochertz

        October 27, 2023 at 12:27 pm

        SD….it does not “de-humanize” is clearly illustrates the humans that elect to camp in a park verses doing the hard work of getting a job, paying for a roof over your head…not spend your money on alcohol..or drugs. Buy food and support yourself. There are plenty of places that will help, catholic charities is one but you must do the hard work and stay sober. Take a shower, go look for work and welcome to the society that our country was founded on. I have to think back to my own life. Our father passed away an left my mother at 29yrs old single with 5 children. We were on what was called Welfare and had food stamps. I worked my whole life…granted not easy have been divorced..had a drinking problem…but somehow still managed to buy a few houses…save for retirement..paid off cars. WHY…because we were not entitled as people now days thin. There were no hand outs. Make these people accountable for their actions. I

  7. SD

    October 25, 2023 at 11:23 am

    Homelessness is a complicated issue. It almost always involves trauma, mental health struggles and severe lack of resources. Often since childhood. Read the ACES study and more. Addiction is also a symptom of all of the above. Many homeless are veterans. Do they not deserve our support? Until we address the problems in our society providing true support, resources and eliminating stigma, we won’t solve homelessness and addiction. No one ever heals from anything while living in shame. Shame is the most disempowering emotion we can experience. And as Shawn said, in reality, most of us are at more risk than we ever care to acknowledge.

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