Signed bipartisan legislation could bring more affordable housing to the region

Published: Jul. 2, 2023 at 5:54 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Governor Tony Evers signed a series of bipartisan bills passed by the GOP led state legislature focusing on affordable housing.

The bills are allocating $525 million in state fund to various loan programs.

“Right now, it’s very difficult to build that type of affordable housing. But, these loan programs, and the zero-interest loans for builders and developers, will hopefully help them target that more affordable home buying and home renting range,” said Tom Larson, executive vice president of the Wisconsin Realtors Association.

He said both sides of the aisle teamed up to tackle housing to support the Badger State’s workforce.

“Employers were talking about the difficulty of attracting employees to fill the jobs necessary to keep the doors open because there was no place to live,” said Larson.

As part of the legislation, the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority will be in charge of accepting requests from developers who they think can meet the demand.

Larson said under the legislation, affordability is determined by factors of the regional county median income averages, among other things.

“And, so, how they calculate that is, they use the federal housing and urban development standards that say you shouldn’t spend more than 30% of your income on housing,” said Larson.

With the legislation, Larson said it should allow for more collaboration to make affordable housing possible.

“The majority of the funding will go to developers. And, they’re going to have to partner with local units of government, because one of the components of the loan funds is that the community in which the development will occur, the community has to engage in regulatory reform to lower the cost of housing for everyone,” said Larson.

He said that could mean building more units on smaller pieces of land, expediting the building process, basically giving municipalities discretion on how to lower regulatory costs for housing.

In the midst of the housing shortage, Larson also said developers have to contend with a labor shortage as well.