LA CROSSE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – Homelessness remains a point of concern in the La Crosse community, and a death at Houska Park is highlighting the need for help. First News at Nine’s Alex Loroff shares the latest on the efforts to assist the homeless.
33-year-old Cameron Baker was found injured at the park by La Crosse Police Monday night and died shortly after.
34-year-old David Pearson was arrested in connection with the death, but the incident is leading to more community organizations raising awareness about the need for more housing.
Salvation Army Social Services Director Krista Coey says their current shelter is not enough to help out the amount of people who are struggling with homelessness.
“Our building can’t meet the needs of our community and that needs to change, and so we have been working towards a strategic plan for a number of years now that I think is important now more than ever to launch,” Coey said.
Coey says the Salvation Army has to turn people away daily, but are trying to continually work with homeless people to find other support and housing options.
Help is also coming from other corners of the community, including the owner of the La Crosse Olive Oil Co.
Randy Goyette runs the Facebook page Heartfelt Cause of La Crosse, and he accepts donations from the community to deliver to the homeless.
oyette wants to help the homeless because of his own experience with homelessness.
“I know what it feels like standing in the rain and you have no hopes, no wishes, no dreams, it irritates me,” Goyette expressed. “If you can just try to help them choose a different path you only can hope that they get out of this rut.”
Goyette has administered necessities to the homeless for ten years, saying building a line of communication is the key to helping out.
“It’s never easy to approach them, you’ve got to come down on their level…and talk with them and try to understand, there’s no real easy fix,” Goyette said.
Coey says the Salvation Army wants to provide as much help as possible to get people off the streets, but the choices need to be made by the people themselves.
“Empowering somebody to make their own decisions and make their own path and guide the process puts the power in their hands so they’re doing the wins, they’re accomplishing their goals,” Coey said.
Coey adds the Salvation Army and other community agencies are always ready to help, all you need to do is reach out.