La Crosse County expands program to replace dilapidated homes with new housing developments

Published: Jul. 5, 2022 at 6:04 PM CDT
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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) - Officials in La Crosse County are hoping to revitalize area neighborhoods by repurposing run-down homes.

In 2016, the County launched the Neighborhood Revitalization Acquisition & Demolition Grant Program, which specifically focused on three La Crosse neighborhoods.

The program awards grants to homeowners and developers who wish to tear down deteriorating housing to build new housing in its place.

Community Development Manager Brian Fukuda says grants initially went towards the Powell-Poage-Hamilton, Washburn, and Lower Northside and Depot neighborhoods due to a significant amount of poor housing.

“They were starting to have other issues that come with deteriorating housing stock like concentrations of poverty, and crime, and those sorts of things,” Fukuda recalled. “Improving some of the worst of the worst housing stock with some decent, safer housing has been a good investment.”

$1.3 million was originally put towards the program, which turned into more than $30 million of new tax base in La Crosse, along with 263 housing units.

Fukuda explains the program was never meant to be provided outside La Crosse, but the County’s allocation of funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) is leading officials to make grants available countywide.

“There certainly are other parts of the county that could certainly use a program like this, and since the ARPA funding came our way, it really just presented a great opportunity to expand the program,” Fukuda added.

Thanks to $2 million in ARPA funding, properties in communities such as Onalaska, West Salem, and Holmen are eligible to be demolished and replaced with new housing.

Grants of up to $50,000 are awarded for a single house, and up to $100,000 can help build multi-unit projects.

While the infusion of federal dollars will sustain the program for a few more years, La Crosse County Board Chair Monica Kruse says it could have an even longer life.

“Hopefully, if it goes well, we’ll be able to leverage some other monies to keep the program going even after the ARPA funds run out,” Kruse conveyed.

The next application deadline is July 21, with a new round of grants being awarded in early August.

More information on the program’s parameters, as well as application materials, can be found here.

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