Connect with us

Family & Home

Campaign to end homelessness promoted in La Crosse by city and county leaders



La Crosse County human services director Jason Witt speaks to the La Crosse County Board about programs for the homeless at a county meeting on Jan. 8, 2024. (PHOTO: Brad Williams)

City and county leaders in La Crosse are moving ahead with joint programs to reduce local homelessness and eventually eliminate it.

A five-year plan called the “Pathways Home” project was discussed at a county meeting Monday.

La Crosse County human services director Jason Witt and city of La Crosse homeless coordinator Brian Sampson both spoke about the project Monday, which was also attended by La Crosse city council members and Mayor Mitch Reynolds.

Witt said a five-year timeless for ending homelessness in the area is “absolutely realistic, and we’ll have certain benchmarks that we’ll be tracking along the way.”

The county estimates that 220 people in the immediate La Crosse area are now homeless, with 114 of those unsheltered — living in the streets, for example.

Beyond getting those persons into shelters, Witt said another goal is to hire a system manager to find available housing.

“The plan is a little focused up front to be able to wrap solutions around getting folks that are unsheltered into sheltered situations,” Witt told WIZM News.

Sampson said plans for housing and other assistance for unsheltered people are steps toward a goal of “Functional Zero.”

He added that the definition of that slogan is that “if somebody is experiencing homelessness, it’s rare and brief, and we’re able to house more people every month than people who are entering homelessness in a given month.”

Witt said the program includes phases of implementation and management, involving investment and more participation from agencies in the community.

View the full plan at this link or at lacrossecounty.org under “latest news.”

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.

Continue Reading


  1. Bob N.

    January 9, 2024 at 9:04 am

    Blah, blah, blah. All the people who enable the vagrants in one place, oozing wisdom. What they want is five years of spending tax dollars and remaining employed while the obvious is right in front of them. The Tribune’s story Sunday of the tent city that has sprung up next to Riverside Park says it all. That’s the location where the bums started, hiding all their stolen bicycles. That poor apartment building, marketed with it’s view of the river, now looks down on drug deals and defecating in the weeds. The Mayor says to the apartment owner “Come in-we’ll discuss it.”
    All they need to do is have the Police officers confront the losers, poke a night stick in their ribs and say “Move on, buddy.”

    • Maggie

      January 10, 2024 at 5:32 pm

      Sometimes I think to myself, ‘surely there can’t be people who are against ending homelessness’. Surely that’s something we can all agree on. And then I see comments like Bobs that lack a single drop of empathy or compassion. Bob, you also lack the critical thinking skills to understand what this means so I’ll try my best to put it simply: ending homelessness benefits everyone! It benefits the entitled people whining in their 3000sqft luxury condos, the money hungry businessmen who are claiming profit losses, and it even helps you Bob! Because then you won’t need to type such blatantly evil, apathetic nonsense directed at real, living human beings. Hope this helps!

  2. Joe

    January 9, 2024 at 9:53 am

    Agree with Bob. Vagrants, that is what they are. When they dont have a job or want to move out of the free housing is the city and county going to kick them out? NO. Perfect example of this not working is Madison, San Fransicko, Seattle. Enable brings in more enabling.

    I am for the County and City working together to open a psych ward to house these vagrants and to get them mental help. IF they did that, the vagrants would move on because they have chose this life.

    • Hydro

      January 24, 2024 at 1:27 pm

      Who is going to work at this said psych ward?????

  3. Chad

    January 9, 2024 at 12:09 pm

    And go where @Bob N. These are human beings. The issue needs to and these people need help not a “move on, buddy”

  4. Walden

    January 9, 2024 at 1:15 pm

    Not much detail to the so-called plan. It seems after a year, thousands of $, the Wise Ones have come up with a slogan “Functional Zero” and not much else. Of course, Functional Zero has no resemblance to actual zero as per standard progressive doublespeak.

    As an added bonus, we will need to add more staff and cost to the Homeless Industrial Complex and the “campaign” objective is to separate you from your money to keep the grift going.

    Happy to clarify that for you.

  5. Kevin

    January 12, 2024 at 8:28 am

    Campaign to END homelessness – what a pile of crap. Why don’t you say a campaign to address homelessness, you aren’t going to END it….that is a lie, it is a falsehood, it is BS. ‘The poor will be with us always…’, wonder where that came from?

    Why don’t you address the homeless problem on the riverfront right now. Assign some folks to clean it up, daily, have some folks walk through 2-3x daily, charge that to the mayor directly. Put a dumpster out there, check 2-3x daily, charge that to the mayor directly. He made the pronouncement that he would take care of them. Put a few chemical toilets out there, where are those folks relieving themselves? Where are those folks cleaning up? Charge that to the mayor directly. He made the pronouncement that he would take care of them!

    My comments make me sound like I have no compassion, that is far from the truth! I am sick and tired of politicians dragging me, and everything around me into their crap pronouncements! They do this without a plan! All the folks that elected this guy mayor, are you giving 10% of your salary to the city to take care of this stuff? Who in the world elected these people, AND are they paying for what they elected?

    END homelessness – what a load of crap! War on drugs, War on poverty, War on Homelessness….. anybody see a pattern? Anybody declare victory in any of these decades old wars?

    Democrats seem to think if they just take the word, zero, and put it into a slogan that makes it a noble and righteous movement. It’s a movement alright, and it splatters all over all of us!

    Net Zero – equal load of crap, people use resources, people are multiplying, by definition that is not net zero! Carbon dioxide in the air is what plants use for photosynthesis! Makes them grow big and strong like meat and potatoes make babies grow big and strong. Somebody please go to school and actually study science!

  6. Anne L. Weibel

    February 15, 2024 at 1:03 pm

    It is not just an uncomfortable problem or a monetary problem, it is a public health problem. As was mentioned in one of the other comments, wherever these random camps are set up (there are now a couple in the marsh) there are no bathrooms, no places near them to encourage them to put their trash or needles if they have them, and children and other vulnerable people frequent these spaces.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *