For the past year the city of La Crosse, and several partners from around La Crosse and Monroe Counties, have been conducting a fair housing study.
La Crosse is required to conduct the study because the city receives money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development through a Community Development Block Grant.
“The last time we updated this study was in 2011 so it’s been eight years,” said La Crosse Community Development Administrator Caroline Gregerson. “And it was very interesting to see some of the new conclusions. So the top issues that rose to the fore of this study was housing affordability.”
The purpose of the study is to find patterns of race, housing, poverty, access and housing needs in the region.
The study found eight different barriers to fair housing ranging from a lack of affordable housing, to poor rental housing conditions to racial disparities in home ownership.
“One of the biggest surprises for me was just the disparities that we’re seeing in access to home ownership. In the La Crosse region, we almost had a zero percent of our African American population that are homeowners,” said Gregerson.
She says the study found that the non-white population was being denied loans twice as often as the white population making the same wage.
The study was conducted with the help of online surveys, public meetings and focus groups.
City officials are now hoping the public gives their input on the results of the study through public hearings and online comments.
“There was definitely some things that we found that we never would have heard about if it wasn’t for people taking the survey, people coming into meetings. It’s just things that’s not in data. So it was very important that people participated,” said Melissa Mailloux, Principal at Mosaic Community Planning and consultant to the study.
Officials say after the report is finalized, the next step is to take the findings and work with regional leaders to better develop plans that address some of the main issues discovered through the study.
To see a full copy of the study and to see when future public hearings are being held click here.