The La Crosse County Executive Committee unanimously approved up to $100,000 toward homeless prevention in the community for the next calendar year, dollars that will largely go toward rent assistance.
The allocation, if approved by the full board next week, will be disbursed between several community agencies who then will connect the relief with the community.
“This tries to address the problem upstream,” said La Crosse County Administrator Steve O’Malley.
The new round of funding will feed an existing homeless prevention fund which has been providing direct aid in the community since 2018, according to the resolution, and matching dollars are expected to support staffing and other support services for the program.
As the community works to support those experiencing homelessness amid the pandemic, some officials voiced concern about the possibility of duplicating resources.
“I do approve this for sure, but we need to get more information,” said supervisor Andrea Richmond, who also serves on the La Crosse Common Council and was particularly concerned about a similar amount of relief directed by the city for the same purpose.
“What funds are going to be used when?” Richmond said.
Those working with the agencies said there is a process to sort through requests for assistance that will ensure resources are allocated efficiently.
“Depending on the household situation, what their needs are, they’re then routed into the appropriate funding stream for resources,” said supervisor Kim Cable, and the Housing and Community Services Director for CouleeCap, Inc.
“So we aren’t duplicating services,” she said, “we are simply trying to maximize and leverage our resources in a way that we can serve the most families.”
Cable said that households in need of long-term assistance with rent and other needs will likely be referred to the county’s aid program.
Households with an income at or below 80% of the La Crosse County median income level would be eligible for the rent support.
But the funds also would be available to assist with utility payments, security deposits, childcare, vehicle or household repairs, eviction prevention and job security, according to the resolution.
This direct aid will be used by clients of Independent Living Resources, Salvation Army, Catholic Charities and the La Crosse Area Family Collaborative, and a breakdown of the expected usage is expected to come before a full vote next week.
Officials said they also expect to see more relief in the coming weeks and months from the second stimulus bill passed by Congress.
The $100,000 was not originally accounted for on the 2021 budget, and will require a two-thirds vote from the full board next Thursday, though officials said they are confident the funds are there.