Francis Home program places family in permanent home

La Crosse family that was once facing homelessness gets help buying home.

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – A La Crosse family that once faced homelessness now owns a home they can call their own.

A local non-profit called Shelter Development worked with Marine Credit Union Foundation’s Finding Home program to get the Hummel family into more permanent housing.

The Hummels started working with Majel Hein, Senior Financial Literacy Counselor with Finding Home.

The program involves 12 to 18 months of financial counseling to help pay off debt and develop good financial behavior.

Hein says, “so often with money, it becomes a tunnel vision thing where you’re living literally in the moment, day to day, putting out a fire here, there, trying to figure out what’s going on. And to be able to step back and really figure out how to control your money versus it controlling you is incredibly empowering.”

Using this process, the family was able to make rental payments to live in a Francis Home, which is owned by Shelter Development.

Once the Hummel’s counseling was finished, they were able to get a mortgage at an affordable price and buy the home from Shelter Development.

Alisha Hummel had a message for those who are having trouble securing stable housing.

“If you are struggling, just know that there is hope out there. We were always negative and then we got with Majel and we were so happy just to see a positive ‘one’ number, and then it went up to ‘two’, and then so on and so forth, and it was just so relieving,” she says.

This process is a team effort between the La Crosse Area Family Collaborative, the Marine Credit Union Foundation, and Shelter Development.

Shelter Development runs The Exchange in La Crosse.

The Exchange describes itself as a furniture bank; they take furniture and home good donations from the community and pass them on to people in need.

Chuck Berendes, an attorney in La Crosse and the President of Shelter Development says that the program primarily helps families struggling with housing issues.

Berendes says, “through The Exchange, that would be [helping provide] physical furniture, and kitchenware and dishes … and through Francis Homes, we’re trying to give people a buffer so they pay lower rent.”

Over time, people in the program can use this positive financial history to gain homeownership or have an easier time renting in the future.

The Exchange is currently in need of fans and air conditioners for the summer months. To find a list of other high-demand items, or to find out how to volunteer, visit their website at