Grant Story: One Homeless Outreach Team, Impacting Hundreds

February 27, 2023

Jamie Schloegel, Chief Executive OfficerBy Jamie Schloegel, Chief Executive Officer

Houska Park

The Homeless Outreach Team at Independent Living Resources offers a low barrier connection between unsheltered individuals and supports necessary to find housing and community resources. Independent Living Resources (ILR) is a nonprofit organization that helps people with disabilities achieve or maintain more self-sufficient and productive lives. This makes ILR a natural fit for the Homeless Outreach Team. This team provided services to over 300 people within the City of La Crosse between July 2021 to July 2022.

Increased Demand for Services

The barriers for unsheltered individuals to find help are immense, and the Homeless Outreach Team bridges the gap of services to the individuals that need them. Unlike other programs in the area, IRL doesn’t require a financial screening to benefit from their services. This helps eliminates yet another barrier.

Executive Director of ILR, Sara Eckland, outlines the need for this type of programming. She states, “The Outreach program specifically serves individuals in the La Crosse community who meet the definition of experiencing Category 1 homelessness and have some type of disability, whether that is a chronic physical health condition, developmental disability or challenges with mental health or substance use. These are individuals are living on the streets, in temporary shelter, in any place not meant for human habitation, or are fleeing a domestic violence situation.  Many people needing assistance also belong to socially and economically marginalized groups.”

Even with serving over 300 individuals, the demand for services has increased. This resulted in the need for additional staff to continue to meet the needs of our community. With the help of one of  our competitive grants at LCF, the outreach team was able to hire on one full-time support person for two years.

Additional staff will help more people find and sustain housing

An additional 175 individuals can be served in La Crosse with the addition of one more staff. Success for the program is defined as: unsheltered people with disabilities in the City of La Crosse will have timely access to well trained Outreach staff that can help them access safe and affordable housing. The need is great, but as we continue to see, so are the individuals and organizations willing to help.

Interested in learning more about Independent Living Resources and their mission? Head to their website, linked here.