After reading in the La Crosse Tribune about the decline in homelessness, it's clear homelessness is declining because of the action of several individuals, organizations and agencies.
In 2013, the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration introduced a “homelessness initiative” to recognize the innate worth of every individual and to provide shelter for everyone regardless of their condition.
A Warming Center soon opened to provide overnight shelter for anyone, including those who used alcohol and could not stay at Salvation Army. Salvation Army has since loosened its policy to allow shelter for some individuals who consume alcohol.
In 2015, the Franciscan Hospitality House opened to provide a place for individuals to shower, wash clothes and receive other amenities, including legal assistance. These two services, operated by Catholic Charities, are successful because of the help of many volunteers of all faiths and convictions. Donations from community members and FSPA have met the expenses.
In 2016, the Community Collaborative to End Homelessness set its first goal of ending homelessness among veterans. Several agencies joined in this effort to gradually find housing for individuals on the fringes of society: alcoholics, drug addicts, the underemployed, the unemployed and the mentally ill.
Providing shelter for these individuals reduces costs to society. In nationwide studies, there are fewer arrests among sheltered individuals, less prison time, less emergency medical and hospital expense. But the best benefit is that sheltered people have a better chance for a successful life.
Compassionate members of the La Crosse community have accomplished much in a short time.
John Hempstead, La Crosse