Chippewa Valley leaders ban together to form affordable housing initiative

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ALTOONA, Wis. (WEAU) -- Local community members are coming together to work on more affordable housing in the Chippewa Valley.

Around 40 members gathered at the River Prairie Center in Altoona to begin the discussion Friday morning.

Eau Claire City-County Health Department participated in the discussion saying the lack of affordable housing impacts a wide variety of people.

Director Lieske Giese said, “We don't have enough affordable housing and that is for people that are homeless, or renters and owners and it makes a difference broadly in the success of our community.

The coalition brings together a wide variety of community leaders from the finance and development community to local government departments.

Altoona Mayor Brendan Pratt says the coalition will focus on connecting the dots between various efforts that have been taking place to address affordable housing.

“It's good to bring a group of people together like this if they can work together for one common goal instead of their own individual little projects,” said Pratt. “To help and share information, to share resources, it will only help everybody in the end.”

Right now Altoona city planner Joshua Clements says the group will hone in on growing the discussion and pinpointing problem areas that may need more study.

“There have been groups talking about homelessness, there have been groups talking about supportive housing and how do we make sure there's coordination between these groups,” questioned Clements. “In particular how do we bring people to the table who haven't been well integrated in these conversations meaning the finance community and the development community in particular.”

The coalition says it believes there are solutions to the current housing challenges but the organization needs to determine which are the most appropriate for our community.

Clements added, “Beyond housing it's also about transportation, it's about proximity to employment, it's about public health and personal health and it's about the cohesiveness of our neighborhoods. We're trying to figure out how we can best fit housing into this big puzzle in a way that meet these other goals.”

The coalition plans to meet again in August with discussions continuing among members between sessions.

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