La Crosse hosts forum on homelessness

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) -- The City of La Crosse is working toward a goal to end chronic homelessness for 20 out of 50 homeless people in the area by the end of July.

Tuesday evening city leaders held a public forum to talk about their progress so far.

"We just decided on a goal that would encourage us to work better than our usual housing placement rate but also allow us to almost shave that number in half," said Kim Cable, from the La Crosse Collaborative to End Homelessness.

So far, it's found solutions for seven people.

Organizations like the Salvation Army have been helping make sure everyone has a place to stay for the time being.

"I think two of them made their way into us and of course they may be coming to the meal programs and we're not sure of that," said La Crosse Salvation Army Major Jeff Richardson. "They may have been doing that all the way along the line, but certainly if they come to see us we're more than happy to provide a bed for them, provide a meal."

The city has already achieved one of its goals which was to clear out the area nicknamed "Tent City," telling anyone living out in the Riverside North area in tents that they had to leave the area by May 31st.

"Our officers were pretty familiar with most people that they were dealing with down there, know them on a first name basis and so we didn't run into many issues at all," explained La Crosse Police Captain Jason Melby.

Now, the organizations say much of the work is about finding permanent solutions.

"I feel like we've got such a great recipe right now with organizations and businesses and landlords in the community all kind of stepping up and understanding that there's many complicating factors for why people are homeless," said La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat. "It isn't just some of the stereotype issues that people think of."

The collaborative says it's still on track to meet the July 31st goal.

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