Couleecap is working to create more affordable housing options in the Coulee area


LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) — A Coulee-area nonprofit is working to provide more affordable housing options in its four-county service area.

For many years the corner of 6th and Winnebago Street in La Crosse was vacant following a fire, but it is now the site of a new three-bedroom home for Michelle Manzy and her family.

“We’ve been renting for a while, and where we’re renting, every year the rent goes up,” Manzy said. “It’s just nice to have your own place where you can just have space, now we have space for our kids.”

The construction of the house was facilitated by Coulecapwhose home ownership program helped secure the property for the de Manzy family.

However, community development director Ashley Lacenski said there were many other suitors at home.

“We had a lot of applicants for this property, and I heard from many potential buyers and real estate agents how difficult it was to find a home,” recalls Lacenski.

Becky Koske, Couleecap’s assistant director of housing and community services, says there are a growing number of people struggling to find long-term housing.

“I think we’ve seen housing costs go up, especially during the pandemic, people have been hit really hard,” Koske explained. “It’s been a struggle to maintain and pay for housing, and all the other things that go with a safe and stable life.”

Couleecap tries to help people in need of housing, but the nonprofit needs funding to do so.

Great Rivers United Way is stepping in to help, allocating $45,000 from its 2021 campaign to Couleecap’s homelessness prevention, supportive housing and healthy homes programs.

“It’s important that the money is there to fund programs that provide resources to people who are struggling to find housing,” said Mary Kay Wolf, Executive Director of United Way.

Lacenski says Couleecap uses multiple sources of funding to expand the reach of its housing support.

“We serve La Crosse, Monroe, Vernon and Crawford counties,” Lacenski said. “Much of our work has focused on La Crosse County and the City of La Crosse, but we also have an obligation to help our other communities.”

Couleecap’s next housing project is currently under construction in Prairie du Chien.

In addition to Couleecap, United Way has also provided funding to organizations such as Independent Living Resources, The Salvation Army of La Crosse, Western Dairyland and the YWCA of La Crosse for safe and affordable housing initiatives.

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