- Associated Press - Friday, May 5, 2017

LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) - A coalition that includes the city of La Crosse and several agencies has set a deadline for removing an encampment of homeless people in a wooded area along the Mississippi River.

Members say the group’s goal is to secure housing for the approximately 15 people in the area by the end of the month.

Kim Cable leads the collaborative and is the housing and community services director at Couleecap. Cable told the La Crosse Tribune (https://bit.ly/2pdzovU ) that the coalition has already begun opening up beds and reaching out to people.

“We want to ensure that every person who is homeless and living in tents has shelter available and future housing opportunities in La Crosse,” Cable said.

The initiative is an extension of the La Crosse Collaborative to End Homelessness’ efforts last year to end veteran homelessness before Christmas. The undertaking was largely successful, with the placement of 16 veterans.

Brian Johnson, who lives at the encampment, said he’s more inclined to cooperate now than he was last fall in the push to bring homelessness in the area to functional zero. Johnson said he hopes to get enough money to rent a storage unit for parts and tools he uses to repair bicycles. He currently runs his bike shop outdoors at the encampment.

Johnson said he has a lead on a job at an organic farm.

“I believe in working hard and playing hard,” Johnson said. “I’m a guy - I like to get my hands dirty. I like to work from a tent. The only thing you lose is your luxuries.”

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Information from: La Crosse Tribune, https://www.lacrossetribune.com

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