When it came time for the City of La Crosse to develop a new Analysis of Impediments, it sought to bring into the process other jurisdictions and organizations throughout the region, several of whom were not under any HUD requirement to prepare an AI but joined the effort nonetheless. The cooperation among the regional partners (the City of La Crosse, La Crosse County, Monroe County, the City of La Crosse Public Housing Authority, the La Crosse County Housing Authority, the Tomah Housing Authority, and the Monroe County Housing Authority) was remarkable and expanding the scope of the project from one focused on a single city to one focused instead on a multi-county region led to a more comprehensive and useful analysis.
One hallmark of the La Crosse Regional AI was the deep and varied community engagement. Nearly 900 residents and stakeholders provided input for the AI through a mix of public meetings, focus groups, interviews, community events, and a survey. Some of these methods, like public meetings and a survey, are typical of an AI project, but to ensure participation by underrepresented groups, we set up focus groups with mortgage lenders, public housing residents, low-income families with school-aged children, people with disabilities, and local government staff. Input was also collected through participation in community events, which included an informational booth at a back to school event and presentations at standing meetings of neighborhood associations and other community groups.
The resulting Regional Analysis of Impediments has been put to active use within the community which has embraced and worked eagerly to implement the recommended strategies for improving fair housing choice.