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The La Crosse City Council raised concerns about the concentration of low-income housing on the city’s North Side during a presentation Monday about a planned affordable housing project.

Representatives from CommonBond Communities hosted an informational session at La Crosse City Hall to share their vision for two acres on the northeast corner of the former Trane Plant 6 site at the corner of George and St. Cloud streets.

The Minnesota-based nonprofit’s proposal includes 45 one-, two- and three-bedroom units of mixed-income housing ranging from 30 percent to 80 percent of the county median income. Nine units will be set aside for people or families who have experienced homelessness or have a special need or disability, with veterans given a preference. Rents will range from about $400 to $1,500 per month.

“We really are excited to bring this work to La Crosse. We really want to work hard with the community and with the residents to build a location that’s going to fit within the fabric of the community, which is going to allow our residents, your neighbors, to have dignity in their community,” said CommonBond Wisconsin market leader Joe’Mar Hooper.

CommonBond provides a variety of services and amenities to its residents, ensuring that housing and services work together to create a stable environment for people with low incomes, said Cecile Bedor, executive vice president of real estate at CommonBond.

“Concentration has always been a concern across the country about where you put affordable housing. I think what people forget sometimes is that the people that we’re serving, these are folks who are your neighbors, who work down the street,” Bedor said.

Scott Neumeister mug

Scott Neumeister

It’s a concern on La Crosse’s North Side, according to council member Scott Neumeister, who represents the area that includes the Lower Northside Depot Neighborhood. While he doesn’t question the need for the project, he doesn’t believe it should be placed so close to similar projects.

“That area is really being swallowed up by low income and our concern is in order to building a community — and we get it, we want to help wherever we can — but should these be moved around instead of just in one pocket?” Neumeister said.

Not only is the site just a couple blocks from the Garden Terrace apartments on Kane Street being constructed as affordable housing by Impact Seven; but that area also has an abundance of rental properties and is losing owner-occupied homes to the expense of living in the floodplain.

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As a lifelong North Sider, Neumeister has seen a lot of change, he said, but his neighbors were hoping for a larger development on the site, like a grocery store or something along those lines.

“If nothing else, reach out and talk to everybody, get more involved in the neighborhood associations and the meetings. Maybe we can address some of those questions and concerns,” Neumeister said.

Bedor said she was happy to come to any meeting CommonBond is invited to and very open to feedback, and her team assured the crowd that they will build a beautiful, taxable building to help bolster the community.

Community engagement doesn’t stop with the completion of construction, she said.

“If there is ever an issue with how we’re managing it, if our snow isn’t getting plowed, if there’s any resident issue at all, we want to hear about it immediately,” Bedor said.

CommonBond’s services, such as a study buddy and mentoring program for kids, depend on community volunteers, and the nonprofit hopes to build a positive relationship between its residents and their neighbors.

“We want this to be an asset to the community. We want our residents to be welcomed,” Bedor said.

CommonBond has received $471,790 in community development block grant funds and is in the process of negotiating a developer’s agreement with the city after the Economic Development Commission approved a $189,000 pay-as-you-go tax increment financing grant. It is also pursuing Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority funding. The area is zoned for multi-family housing.


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Jourdan Vian can be reached at jvian@lacrossetribune.com or follow her on Twitter at @Jourdan_LCT.

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Reporter

Jourdan Vian is a reporter and columnist covering crime and courts for the La Crosse Tribune. You can contact her at 608-791-8218 or jvian@lacrossetribune.com.

(11) comments

union conservative

MORE importantly, why are we worried about low income people? Why not build something that attracts people who pay taxes and don’t use up resources? It seems like low income families have become the center of attention in LaCrosse. Anytime there is housing being built it seems like it is for low income. When are we going to try and attract working class families instead people who suck the life out of the people who are doing the paying?

let it go

I think looking at the store closings we can see what happens when we concentrate on something too much. We concentrate on the downtown which was hit hard by the Mall being built and now the Mall is losing stores. We concentrate special learning programs for advanced students and students with basic skills suffer. We build more restaurants and we have less family time and more obesity. Now Bridgeview is going down, but we spent years on the Exit 3 and Roosevelt Apartments while Gordy's and Shopko were going down. At least we have Kwiktrips so we can buy affordable beer and cigarettes. LOL

Cassandra2

"Let them eat cake," right? SMDH

DMoney

Because that's evil and sadistic, according to some on here.

DMoney

Why is it a problem to concentrate low-income people in one area? This is a semi-rhetorical question.

Cassandra2

If you cared to listen to facts and learn from experts, D-bag, you'd find that concentrating poverty leads to a host of other social ills. But you wouldn't listen to the experts, given your clear penchant for rejecting facts in favor of your belligerent ignorance.

DMoney

Thanks C-bag. But I thought most or all low-income people are great, upstanding people that were just wronged by the rich? You are saying that they would create social ills? That can't be because they reap what the sow, can it?

Cassandra2

I refer you to my comment above, which you just proved. Here's a shovel--keep digging.

DMoney

I scrolled up to where you said there are "human ills"prevalent in low income areas. You said it. I asked you why that is, you didn't answer.

DMoney

Excuse me, "social ills"

let it go

What about the Kmart sight. It is close to shopping and there is a need on that side of town. I believe there are more homeless people on the southside than on the northside.

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