Why Does It Take a Pandemic to Prioritize Housing Security?

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While public health departments across the nation locked down shelters as a way to prevent spread of COVID-19 from their homeless population to the general public, the La Crosse community took a different approach – one that took into account the inherent worth and dignity of every person. This presentation takes a look at how our community and its homeless services agencies responded to protecting the health and well-being of people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 crisis while preparing to be able to support many more residents as they face potential eviction due to loss of employment and income.

As a former International Partner with Habitat for Humanity International and Certified Peer Specialist with Independent Living Resources, who provided Peer Support and Housing Search & Counseling services, Julie began her work with the Coulee Collaborative to End Homelessness in 2017. As the Project Manager she coordinates efforts to determine current community need and identify program gaps via real time data collection and analysis, develop programs to serve those needs, procure funding to secure those programs as well as make existing programs more robust, and work to improve overall service delivery for those in need. The Collaborative brings together stakeholders from across a four county region (Crawford, La Crosse, Monroe and Vernon), including homeless service agencies, health systems, city and county government, faith-based organizations and individuals, all working towards a single common goal – to end homelessness in the Coulee Region.

Mark is a Case Manager at Couleecap, Inc., assisting those experiencing homelessness in accessing Social Security benefits. Mark has been involved directly with community development, poverty, and homelessness in La Crosse since 2014 when he worked with the City of La Crosse to develop a 5-Year Strategic Plan for the Community Development Block Grant. He then moved on to become the coordinator of the La Crosse Warming Center for two years before assuming his current role.