The five-year plan will improve coordination and use of data to produce long-term results.
View the plan document at this link.
The City and County of La Crosse are launching an ambitious new partnership to end long-term homelessness in our community.
Pathways Home, a five-year joint plan, was presented to a meeting of the county board and city council on Monday. Its goal is to achieve Functional Zero homelessness in La Crosse by 2029. This would mean any instances of homelessness would be rare and brief and would not exceed the community’s capacity to move people into housing.
“With greater coordination and consistent, accountable leadership we can reach our goal of effectively ending long-term homelessness in La Crosse,” said Mayor Mitch Reynolds. “To make that happen, we will need all the key players in our community pulling in the same direction and this plan is a great start.”
The city and county have historically not had a defined role in homelessness response in La Crosse. The new five-year plan changes that and will result in a more targeted and aligned approach. At present, gaps in the system mean important resources, such as housing funding, are not being fully deployed to benefit those in need.
“This is the first time the city and county are working together to tackle homelessness with a shared vision and a plan to get us there,” said Jane Klekamp, La Crosse County Administrator. “City and county staff will work to expand housing options and improve support systems so that results are sustainable.”
Pathways Home contains strategies to increase the availability of housing, improve supports for people so they stay housed, and creates a path to ending homeless encampments. Progress will be tracked and made available to the public.
“The backbone structure provided by the city and county will free up nonprofit agencies, who are doing great work on the ground, to focus on what they do best,” said Jason Witt, La Crosse County Human Services Director.
As part of the plan, the county will use existing funding to hire a County Homelessness System Manager, who will work in tandem with Brian Sampson, the city’s Homelessness Services Coordinator. A specialized unit of county behavioral health workers will also be engaged.
“I am proud to see the city and county come together around the vision of achieving Functional Zero,” Sampson said. “Other communities have shown us what is possible, and there’s no reason we can’t have the same success here.”
Pathways Home has received backing from Gundersen Health System and Mayo Clinic Health System – La Crosse and a number of local leaders, including La Crosse Police Chief Shawn Kudron.
“A collaborative approach for reducing homelessness allows stakeholders to expand the capabilities of our current resources and work together to assist citizens in need,” said Kudron. “The La Crosse Police Department is committed to the safety and well-being of the greater La Crosse community.”
Pathways Home will ensure city, county and other resources dedicated to ending homelessness are used as efficiently and effectively as possible.