The La Crosse County Board's proposals for the county's American Rescue Plan Act allocation would make key investments in the county's social and physical infrastructure.
By Monica Kruse, La Crosse County Board Chair
La Crosse County is planning to make big investments in 2022 to make our county more sustainable, while saving money for taxpayers and helping employers with longstanding workforce issues.
As you may remember, the county received an historic allocation of $22.89 million in federal funding last summer through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Now, after months of planning and community engagement, we’re ready to launch an ambitious suite of proposals to use that funding (we received the first half of the allocation last summer, the second portion will arrive later this year).
Each of the eight proposals in our plan represents a concrete step forward to address an unmet need in our community. The eight projects in the plan are:
- Neighborhood Childcare Model: A pilot program to provide child care in partnership in collaboration with community partners. The program would be targeted to help families access quality, affordable child care in their own neighborhood. Good, accessible child care helps children become successful, and helps keep parents in the workforce. If this model is successful, it could be expanded.
- Bridge Housing for Families: This proposal would provide immediate housing to families experiencing homelessness at scattered locations around the county. There are an estimated 88 students in the La Crosse School District who are homeless, representing 56 families, which gives an idea of the scale of the problem this program would work to alleviate.
- Skilled Trades Training: In collaboration with local partners, this program would both expand training options for youth interested in skilled building trades and better market existing programs. The program would work to mitigate the skilled trades labor shortage for local construction companies and provide a pathway to good-paying jobs.
- Hillview Redesign and Rebuild: This innovative project would replace outdated buildings at Hillview Health Care Center with a modern facility that focuses on providing care for older adults with dementia and other complex needs. The project would both meet a growing need for specialized care for older adults and safeguard Hillview’s future as a vital community asset.
- Green Infrastructure – County Solar: A proposal to fund the installation of solar panels on county buildings or land, with the potential to greatly reduce the county’s energy costs. At the same time, the project would move the county closer to its goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.
- Bridge Housing for Adults: A plan to provide safe, dignified housing to individuals experiencing chronic homelessness in La Crosse County. On-site support would be provided by county staff and other professionals to aid the transition to long-term housing.
- Grants for Housing Redevelopment: This project would expand the county’s successful Acquisition and Demolition Grant Program so that it is available county-wide. At present the program is only available in a small number of neighborhoods in the City of La Crosse. The proposal would also alter the program so that funding could be used not only for demolition but also for rehabilitation projects.
- Stormwater Infrastructure Grant Fund: A plan to create a grant program that villages, towns and cities across the county could apply to for stormwater infrastructure projects. Stormwater infrastructure in parts of the county is inadequate to meet the increasing number of flood events. This project would especially help to pay for infrastructure upgrades in rural parts of the county.
These projects were developed with the collaboration of over 80 individuals on seven task forces who received guidance from the county board (click here for more detail on the task forces and the projects they developed). The board in turn was aided by public input from our community survey, which had over 1,500 participants.
It should be noted that all these projects remain at an early stage, with a potentially complex implementation period ahead. But together, the projects signal our ambition to build a sustainable, thriving future for La Crosse County. Watch for updates as we move ahead with this exciting plan.