$700,000 going toward affordable housing initiative in Eau Claire

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- As a part of a new initiative, The Eau Claire City Council passed an amendment for the city to invest in affordable housing.

Out of the $700,000 going toward the affordable housing plans, $200,000 will go toward single-family homes and the other $500,000 for multi-family homes.

The $500,000 amendment for multi-family affordable housing was proposed by council members Andrew Werthmann and Kate Beaton.

City Council members say they want this funding to help incentivize developers to help build more affordable homes in the community.

“One in every ten people in Eau Claire is paying more than 50 percent of their income toward their housing,” said Werthmann. “That leaves nothing for the other groceries, gas, and childcare.”

ALICE, which stands for asset limited, income constrained, employed, is a new way of defining the struggles of households that earn above the federal poverty level, but not enough to afford a bare-bones household budget.

According to the ALICE report, 14 percent of people in Eau Claire County are living at or below the federal poverty level and an additional 28 percent are still struggling to make ends meet.

“When we look at the top 20 occupations in Eau Claire County, of those top 20, 16 of them pay less than $20 an hour and 11 of them pay less than $15 an hour,” said Jan Porath, executive director at United Way in Eau Claire.

Porath says United Way funds $124,000 a year around sheltering and housing programs. Those are in partnership with organizations like Family Promise and Western Dairyland.

Werthmann says many ideas are on the table right now as to how exactly the funds will be used, which could be in the form of renovating old properties or creating a revolving loan fund.

He says planning is already happening and any development is expected to take place in 2020.

“We have an extremely competent city staff that's going to figure out how to best utilize those dollars,” said Werthmann.

Besides city staff, Werthmann says the Chippewa Valley Affordable Housing Task Force and an Affordable Housing Commission will also help guide the investment of funds.