Report 2 from the Affordable Housing Conference in La Crosse

NOTE: I wrote this in La Crosse last night, but was having some massive issues with the hotel’s WiFi connection (or lack thereof). So, here is my summary of the conclusion of Day 1, I will talk about Day 2 later.

It’s about 9 PM and I am back in my room in downtown La Crosse as day one of the annual conference of The Wisconsin Collaborative for Affordable Housing comes to an end.

The afternoon class I was going to attend was about revitalizing a Beloit neighborhood. However, after looking at all of the afternoon offerings, I called an audible and instead when to a class labeled “Making Local Coalitions Work: A Coalition of the Willing”.

It was a pretty good class put on by members of the Fox Cities Poverty Coalition and Fox Cities Housing Coalition. It looked at what a coalition (or committee or task force) needs to be successful and what are the biggest hurdles they face. There was also some really good information on the Fox Cities Poverty Coalition. This might be something the Wausau area may want to look into creating. The speakers of this group are more than willing to “take the show on the road” to help create similar programs. If you want more information on their program, their website is

The reception was from 5 to 7 PM, and it allowed a chance for networking. Which, if you remember my writings about how anti-social I am, is my “favorite” part of an event like this. Normally, the reception is my cue to head back to my room. But as the leader of the geographically largest rental housing trade association in the state, that wasn’t exactly an option.

After the reception, a few other members of the group representing property owners got together to discuss industry issues. In addition to me, we had the president of the Wisconsin Rental Housing Legislative Council (the Wisconsin Apartment Association’s lobbying partner), our contract lobbyist, and the president of WAA’s La Crosse local affiliate.

It was a good discussion. The best part is that when I do my next Dr Rent show next week, I already have a couple of questions. One has to do if a property owner wants to tear down their property, are there circumstances where the city can say no? Also, if a deposit is mailed to a tenant’s last known address and it gets returned the landlord, what should the landlord do with the payment? (And of course, more importantly, what should the landlord NOT do?)

The program starts up again bright and early at 8 AM tomorrow. The Breakfast Plenary (as they call it, I will call it the morning general session) will feature Jan Moore, program specialist for the National Center of Homeless Education who will discussion topics including the educational plight of homeless children and youth; how do children and youth end up in homeless situations; etc.

Of the 9:45 AM sessions, the one titled “Housing Transitions: Making the Process Work” has caught my eye. This class is going to be presented by a representative of the WI Dept of Health Services and a couple of representatives for the Dept. of Corrections. The information sheet on the class says “This workshop will feature programs and efforts underway to transition people back into the community, focusing on two important client groups in need of service – residents of nursing homes and correctional institutions.”

Of the late morning sessions tomorrow, “The Current Status of Markets” has caught my attention. Speakers from Baker Tilly (formerly known as Virchow Krause) and WHEDA will “focus on the question of whether or not new housing developments hurt a community. Attendees will look at options {of} affordable housing when housing markets are saturated. Discussions will examine the role of improving existing properties, as well as what to do with community services.” Tell me that topic doesn’t hit close to home with things that have come up in Wausau recently?

The closing general session will cover “Critical Housing Issues in Wisconsin and the 2010 General Election” and will be presented by WAA’s lobbyist, Gary Goyke.

So.. I suppose I should finish this up, watch the news, and get to bed so I can be ready for another productive day.


About drrent

Wausau, Wisconsin Landlord, past president of the Wisconsin Apartment Association, Host of the Dr Rent Radio Show on WNRB-LP, 93.3 FM, Wausau, WI
This entry was posted in Affordable Housing, La Crosse, WAA and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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