The search for affordable housing in Eau Claire

Published: Jun. 29, 2022 at 7:04 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Home and rental prices are going up, making it harder for people to find places to live.

A report from in March stated national rent prices have jumped 17% from last year. In 2021, Eau Claire moved up to the eighth largest city in Wisconsin, but with a growing city comes a rising need for housing.

Wendy Primeau has been looking for a place to move for sixth months, and said this process has not been easy.

“It always just keeps on being a dead end road,” Primeau said.

The process of looking for a place to live can be complex with filling out applications, scheduling visits and calling about availabilities. Primeau said it’s draining.

“I’m exhausted from the phone calls. I’m exhausted from waiting for someone to call,” Primeau said. “I’m exhausted from being told things that weren’t true.”

Eau Claire City Council Member Andrew Werthmann said he recognizes the need for affordable housing is a priority.

“It’s a dire situation,” Werthmann said. “I think people are seeing that in our community, where not only is it hard to find an apartment to rent, it’s hard to find something that’s affordable.”

This is a situation Western Dairyland Communications Coordinator Dale Karls said has been around for awhile.

“Affordable housing, affordable rental prices has always been a problem that so many of our clients have dealt with,” Karls said. “There are always too many people who cannot afford their rent, and this goes back ten, 15 years ago.”

Karl said the need for housing assistance has not gone down. People continue to contact Western Dairyland for assistance, especially with their Rental Assistance Program.

“Thousands of families have called us,” Karls said. “It’s been our number one request for the past two years now.”

Werthman said there are different ways the Eau Claire City Council is trying to combat this issue.

“One of the things that we are actually working on right now is looking at ARPA dollars toward a needs assessment, so that we understand all the different housing types and what the essential needs are,” Werthmann said. “That’s one of the things that we put in our budget proposal right now.”

Werthmann also mentioned adding 1 million dollars to the Affordable Housing Fund, and creating incentives for affordable housing as additional ways to tackle this problem.

As those efforts are underway, Primeau said she has one goal in mind.

“I’m hoping that we can find a place really soon, and I’m hoping that it will be a place that, you know, is a fit for us,” Primeau said.

Western Dairyland said if you are struggling with housing, whether paying for or finding a place to live, please contact them for assistance. Their telephone number is 715-836-7511.

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