UW-La Crosse research highlights affordable housing problems

Local News

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – The La Crosse community is continuing to deal with a lack of affordable housing options, but a UW La Crosse study hopes to provide long-term solutions. First News at Nine’s Alex Loroff has details on the housing research.

New research from UW-La Crosse is illustrating the need for affordable housing in the community.

The La Crosse Area Habitat for Humanity sent out a survey last year to people struggling with housing.

Over 200 responses were returned, and Executive Director Kahya Fox identified some common issues.

“We saw a lot of information regarding substandard housing, so a lot of really terrible stories about people living in some pretty bad conditions for them and their families,” Fox detailed. “We [also] saw just a lack of it, so not being able to find housing in our community.”

The data was compiled by UWL students and faculty, including Professor Carol Miller, who says some responses also described instances of racial discrimination.

“There was one respondent who said that when they would reach out to a property manager, an owner, or leasing agent, over-the-phone the opportunity seemed promising,” Miller said. “Then when they went to meet with them in-person and they saw who they were then they weren’t quite as welcoming.”

The research laid out the problems but also offered potential solutions including rent control programs, additional funding, and alternative housing options for families.

“[We need} some newer, but smaller housing options because a lot of the housing that’s being built is bigger, newer, and not affordable,” Miller said.

“And then also just taking a look at what kind of funding or dollars might be available to bring into the community to help promote safe and affordable housing,” Fox added.

Fox believes addressing affordable housing issues can lead towards long-term community growth.

“When you have better housing, you have people who want to stay in your community because they have options,” Fox said. “Then you have impacts to employers, impacts to your tax base, and impacts to the entire community.”

In La Crosse, Alex Loroff, First News at Nine.

Other possible solutions include building neighborhoods for smaller residences or expanding the city’s program to revitalize and sell previously dilapidated homes.

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