Income, living cost statistics given at county board meeting

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By Ted Pennekamp


The executive director of Couleecap, Hetti Brown, gave a presentation at the Crawford County Board meeting Tuesday morning in Prairie du Chien. 

Brown told board members that Couleecap serves more than 27,000 residents per year across a region including Crawford, Monroe, Vernon and La Crosse counties. She said that 92 percent of Couleecap’s donations-funding goes directly to helping clients.

“We fight poverty through self-sufficiency,” said Brown. “Our clients get no public or private subsidies.” 

Brown said Couleecap helps people and families to become self sufficient through a variety of programs, including, but not limited to, heating assistance, electric assistance, crisis assistance, furnace assistance, the Work-N-Wheels program, the Home Weatherization program, the Homeless Prevention program, the Housing Rehabilitation program, home ownership programs, the Prairie du Chien Food Pantry and the Bargain Boutique.

Brown mentioned several statistics regarding Crawford County during a slide show presentation. For instance, in Crawford County, 26 percent of residents are renters and the mean renter wage is $8.42 per hour. The hourly wage necessary to afford a two bedroom residence is $13.50, said Brown. So, a person would have to work 1.6 full-time jobs to afford rent. More than 28 percent of county residents pay more than 30 percent of their income on housing. These are considered cost burdened households, said Brown.

Brown said that Couleecap used the ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) threshold when it put together the Household Survival Budget for Crawford County. The Household Survival Budget is the bare minimum budget needed for a single adult or a family of four to afford the basic necessities. It provides for no savings, leaving a household vulnerable to unexpected expenses.

The Household Survival Budget has $468 a month for housing for a single adult and $637 for a family of four (two adults, one infant and one preschooler). It has $1,019 for child care for a family of four, $533 for food, $702 for transportation, $587 for health care, $394 for miscellaneous, and $467 for taxes, for a total of $4,339 per month. A family of four would have to earn a combined $26.03 per hour, which is a household income of $52,068 in order to survive, said Brown. Forty-seven percent of Crawford County families are living below the ALICE poverty threshold.

Brown also talked about the self-sufficiency standard for Crawford County. Under the self-sufficiency standard, a family of two adults, one infant and one preschooler would need a total income of $57,748 annually to be self sufficient. Each adult would have to earn $13.67 per hour.

Brown said that Couleecap will continue to identify emerging issues in the community and strive to meet those needs through excellent service, community collaboration and advocacy. She urged board members and other county residents to suggest Couleecap to those who could benefit from one or more of Couleecap’s programs in order to become self-sufficient.

The Couleecap website is The Crawford County Couleecap Office is at 200 E. Blackhawk Ave., Prairie du Chien (608) 326-2463, email is Hetti Brown can be reached by email at

In other business, the county board approved of a pay raise for all county employees of 2 percent as of Jan. 1, 2018.

It was also noted that the County Budget Hearing will be on Nov. 14 at 10 a.m. in the Administrative Offices Building in Prairie du Chien.

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