LA CROSSE Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) –City leaders in La Crosse are trying to find the best ways to help the community’s homeless population. While one temporary solution has been extended, another has hit a snag in the planning process.
Karuna housing executive director Julie Mcdermid says there are 96 people living at the Econolodge. Those residents would have had to move out in two weeks, but the city of La Crosse is allowing them to stay through April.
“It’s a very expensive prospect to continue to house people in a hotel. We appreciate the extra month to be able to work with people, help to get them stabilized, help to get as many out to housing as possible,” said Mcdermid.
Services will continue to be provided to people like Lindsey Lewko, who’s not only receiving shelter, but also treatment for addiction.
“Honestly, I have someone to be accountable to. It’s not so much that I want to let myself down, but I don’t want to let them down either, so I strive to be better for them for myself,” said Lewko.
Lewko credits Karuna for fostering a positive community at the hotel, but even with the extension, the arrangement is ending soon. As a next step, city leaders will allow the homeless to gather at Houska Park this spring.
The maple grove motel may also serve a similar function to the Econolodge later this year. As plans continue to develop, John Young with Karuna believes those experiencing homelessness should be involved.
“You know, I think they get hung up on the group of people. I think there’s a lot of ‘the homeless’ and if they speak to some of the people and learn about their lives and what it took to get to this point, and then what it would take to get out of this situation, I think that’d be really helpful. There’s not enough of that,” said Young.
The city is still planning to purchase the Maple Grove Motel at the end of the month. However, it may back out if structural and electrical repairs aren’t made by the sale’s closing date. The issues with the Maple Grove Motel were discovered during an inspection of the property. If the city buys the motel, mayor Mitch Reynolds says there are no longer plans to add “tiny homes” to the site.