Responses to a questionnaire received from Habitat for Humanity La Crosse Affordable Housing Committee.

More than a third of all U.S. families are cost-burdened, paying more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs. Nearly 17 percent are severely cost-burdened and pay half their income on rent. Eleven percent of La Crosse County households live below the federal poverty line and an additional 26% struggle to afford basic needs, according to 2018 data. The lack of supply—especially for those with the lowest incomes—has only made this problem worse. What will you do to address housing affordability issues and what would you do to encourage the production of MORE AFFORDABLE HOMES for these families in La Crosse?

If elected to serve as the representative from the 13th district on the La Crosse Common Council, my first obligation will be to become better informed about the reality of home insecurity in our city.  I can believe that a good place to reach out to for becoming informed will be the Habitat for Humanity La Crosse Area Housing Advocacy Committee. I can see that there is a rich representation on the committee of many stakeholders from our community who are involved with responding to our housing needs. At this point I cannot presume to have better ideas for necessary and effective interventions than the many engaged people already committed to this issue. One offering that I can make at this time is my intention to remain in open and active communication with the people who live in the La Crosse 13th district. As I learn about our city’s housing issues, I will also want to learn from the hundreds of families that I will represent on the Council. I have already begun to do that work during this campaign season as I work to visit every home address in my district. This is the primary thrust of my campaign, and it will continue to be the primary thrust of my service if I am elected. 

In Wisconsin in 2019 an estimated 4,538 people were homeless, this number is rising with impacts of COVID -19. Nationally, a study of US cities found that 25 percent of all requests for emergency shelter went unmet. What will you do to mitigate homelessness in La Crosse? 

I believe that our fundamental human rights derive from the fact of our births. For every person it is our birthright to live healthful lives. There is no sense being born to live a life of suffering. As human beings we only achieve health by living in healthful communities, and this means living in communities that provide for our essential human needs: nutritious and secure food, safe and comfortable shelter and care for ill health. We need other things as well identified as social determinants for health. Even so, shelter is primal. If elected to serve on the La Crosse Common Council, I will always advocate for the health of every member of our community living in our city. 

Being denied where to live because of race, family status, or disability is discrimination. In Wisconsin, homeownership among black Americans is the third lowest in the nation. Over the last ten years, black homeownership has dropped from every one in three African Americans to just over one in five African Americans. What meaningful steps will you take to address the root problems of racial disparities in housing? 

Housing discrimination for reasons of race, culture, gender identity or disability is illegal. The reality is that our system of laws is at many times the lowest expectation for our life together. We need to certainly maintain and also go way beyond those legal expectations. The initial response to injustice must be the empowerment of those experiencing injustice. This means to advocate for voices to be heard and persons to be respected. Tolerance is never enough. The work of hospitality is how we can go beyond the crushing of our human spirit by systemic racism.  

As a community that is curbed on one side by the river and the other by the bluffs AND one that has an aging housing/rental stock, many seek more affordable and better housing outside the boundaries of La Crosse and take their tax dollars with them. What would you do about the issues of increasing density and improving substandard rental property? What do you see as the role of the Economic Development Committee regarding safe and affordable housing for La Crosse residents?

On the face of it, what is the possibility that La Crosse could continue to expand and annex areas southward and in the direction of HWY 14/16 currently within the Shelby Township. We have great builders and developers in our community, and we are training many more craftsmen every year. In older parts of town buildings like all things wear out and need to be replaced in time. This means that standards need to be enforced across the board. It may mean that standards need to be raised as we expect more energy efficiency from our dwellings.