La Crosse Blighted Homes to be Torn Down


As part of a national bank fraud settlement, 65 blighted homes throughout Wisconsin will be torn down with hopes of improving neighborhoods.

A small, dilapidated green home on La Crosse’s northside has sat empty for two years.

Officials from southwest Wisconsin nonprofit Couleecap recently found out they’d receive $40,000 to bring down this and three other blighted homes.

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The money comes from the National Mortgage Settlement, which stems from foreclosure abuse and fraud by five major banks. Wisconsin received a part of that settlement and $1 million is going towards eliminating blighted homes.

Couleecap community development coordinator Todd Mandel says they’re working with the city to bring down 13 blighted homes. With the new funding, they’ll be able to take down one more. It’s a small solution to what he calls a major problem, “But it’s still 14 houses out of how many, right? Out of almost 1,000. But if you take the long term view, it took us 200 years as a community to kind of get to where things are at. We’re not going to get out of it in a year. It’s ten year odyssey, a 15 year odyssey.”

Mandel says removing the homes helps improve surrounding property values. He says it also restores neighborhood pride and hopefully encourages investment, “I can go ahead and reroof my house, or I can go ahead and reside my house, or I can ahead put on that deck because I can sit on my deck and I don’t have to look at that eyesore anymore. I can put on a deck and enjoy my neighbors rather than be afraid of what’s going to come there.”

Ten cities received funding to tear down the blighted properties, with Milwaukee receiving the majority.