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Proposed increase in properties to ban camping because of homeless, draws crowd at La Crosse meeting

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The La Crosse city council chamber filled to near capacity for a Board of Public Works discussion of about homeless camping on June 3, 2024 (PHOTO: Brad Williams)

A near packed La Crosse city council chambers Monday for a meeting over a plan to increase the number of areas where camping would be prohibited, due to the amount of homeless people living unsheltered.

After hearing citizens report about violence and drug dealing, where the homeless are camped, the La Crosse Board of Public Works voted 3-2 against adding new properties where there would be a ban on camping.

Nearly 40 tax parcels, mostly within the marsh area, were proposed for inclusion in the camping restrictions.

The council chamber was filled nearly to capacity — several speaking about safety concerns.

The La Crosse city council chamber filled to near capacity for a Board of Public Works discussion of about homeless camping on June 3, 2024 (PHOTO: Brad Williams)

“We call emergency numbers at all hours, reporting screaming, profanity, and obvious violence occurring,” Neva Von Haden, who lives near the marsh, said. “Dogs run loose, unlicensed and unvaccinated. We’ve reported clusters of used needles on the trails surrounding our homes.”

Caitlyn Konze, speaking before the board, opened a briefcase to drop many small paper tents onto the floor, which she said represented a documented homeless person.

“It’s very difficult to keep track,” Konze said, “because again, the amount of times that an encampment is cleared out, they scatter to various other places, so it’s difficult to get an actual accurate read on how many people are actually unsheltered right now.”

City officials speaking at the meeting spoke of finding long-term solutions to the homeless problem, and called on La Crosse County to work jointly with the city on finding housing for unsheltered people.

The issue was also discussed Monday on La Crosse Talk PM with council members Tamra Dickson, who is on the board, and Mac Kiel, who spoke at the meeting during public comments.

New proposals could be discussed by the city council during its July meetings, but are not on the agendas for the June cycle of meetings.

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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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Terry Shepardson

    June 4, 2024 at 2:23 pm

    Is there federal money for this kind thing?? Hard to find a solution.Dont give in.

    • Paul

      June 5, 2024 at 8:35 am

      There is no solution, Terri. Throwing government money at a problem, does not change the choices that people make that caused them to become homeless. No city in the entire country has ever been able to solve this problem. And know there is no federal money unless you want the government to print more. The nation is broke with a debt of $34 trillion. Federal money thrown at the problem is not the answer either.

  2. Roy

    June 4, 2024 at 3:06 pm

    Looking at this crowd of good people—They are trying to do things the prescribed way-making their concerns known publicly to government officials. They then get voted down. The government votes against them, allowing repeated lawbreakers and people who add nothing to society to continue their trespassing, drug use, indecent exposure and filth.
    This current City administration and those they appoint to boards is probably the most worthless La Crosse has ever had. Look who leads it. Maybe a recall?

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