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Mayor's Conference works to make community safer

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - From painting and fixing up houses, to community watch groups looking out for crime, La Crosse is actively working to revitalize its neighborhoods.

On Saturday, La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat and various local organizations came together for the first Mayor's Neighborhood Conference.

Representatives at the conference say people who are invested in the community make a neighborhood better, and owning a home in La Crosse makes residents more involved in the community.

Rick Kyte, Director of D.B. Reinhart Institute for Ethics and Leadership at Viterbo, was the keynote speaker at the conference. He said, "If you don't have security you're always worried about where are you going to live."

Local organizations like Couleecap work to make sure there is affordable housing. Todd Mandel, the Director of Community Development said, "We have neighborhoods in La Crosse where upwards of 70% of the houses are renters, and you end up with a very transient population, that isn't invested or committed."

Couleecap reported in the last six years rent has gone up so much that for every 100 extremely low income household there are only 18 affordable places to live.

However, Kyte said residents of La Crosse should focus on the positive things that they are already doing. He said 85% of the community spends time volunteering, which is one component that makes good neighborhoods.

Couleecap hopes to build more than 50 homes in the next four years, bringing down the rental numbers in La Crosse.

The city plans to revitalize the old Mobil Oil site just North of Downtown into what they call the Riverside North Redevelopment Project.

Other local organizations that attended the Mayor's Conference include Habitat for Humanity, La Crosse Police and Fire departments, members of the La Crosse Promise and La Crosse Compassion Project.

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