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Neighborhood building program gaining momentum

LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) — A La Crosse program that provides educational scholarships to families willing to build a new home or renovate a home in one of two of the city’s deteriorating neighborhoods has generated so much interest that the nonprofit has a waiting list.

Wisconsin Public Radio reported that since the beginning of La Crosse Promise Neighborhood Program, five homes have been built and one has been renovated. So far eight $50,000 scholarships for higher education have been given to families.

“Right now, the housing market is such that I don’t think that we could turn over properties fast enough for the people waiting for them now. So that’s a good sign,” said Brian Liesinger, the program’s executive director.

Homes in the two designated neighborhoods of Powell-Poage-Hamilton and Washburn tend to be cheaper and a lending consortium tied to the program makes financing easier.

The program aims to entice families with children to move into the neighborhoods near downtown la Crosse and invest in a home. The families would then receive $25,000 scholarships for up to two children.

To accommodate the growing interest over the last couple of years, the organization added an adult scholarship to the program and plans to add a third neighborhood in the city’s north side.

There are 25 place-based scholarship programs in the U.S.

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