One Year In, Pandemic Assistance Addresses an Affordable Housing Crisis in Many Communities

By Pat Kreitlow

March 16, 2022

Economic hardships made worse by the pandemic get American Rescue Plan aid to keep roofs over families’ heads.

A pandemic that brought record unemployment to Wisconsin and the rest of the country could have led to crisis-level growth in homelessness for a country that was already experiencing a severe shortage of affordable housing before the coronavirus outbreak. A slate of relief plans focused on affordable housing staved off that threatened growth in families losing shelter—programs that are still at work today.

As the American Rescue Plan marks its first anniversary, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced new grants for Wisconsin’s Ho-Chunk and Lac du Flambeau tribal communities to assist with rent, mortgages, and utilities in order to expand and retain access to safe and affordable housing. 

While the Ho-Chunk will use their $1.7 million grant on rental, mortgage, and utility assistance to low-income tribal members affected by COVID-19, the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians will use their $1.3 million grant to construct a food bank and improve community emergency readiness.

Earlier grants have helped other Wisconsin tribal nations suffering from stagnant assistance as young families tried to find affordable places to live.

“There has been no increase for Indian housing for years,” said Cheryl Cloud, Red Cliff Chippewa Housing Authority director to the Green Bay Press Gazette last November. “It hasn’t kept pace with inflation. That (funding) determines the amount of homes we can repair. It ultimately affects the quality of life for people.”

HUD has delivered nearly $280 million in grants to 240 tribal communities for housing and economic support through Indian Community Development Block Grants along with an additional $450 million in Indian Housing Block Grants. 

Other portions of the American Rescue Plan have protected Americans from foreclosures and evictions, provided communities with more options to assist individuals experiencing homelessness, given states better resources to coordinate housing services for older adults and people with disabilities, and supported veterans with housing support and construction grants for a better place to live.


  • Pat Kreitlow

    The Founding Editor of UpNorthNews, Pat was a familiar presence on radio and TV stations in western Wisconsin before serving in the state Legislature. After a brief stint living in the Caribbean, Pat and wife returned to Chippewa Falls to be closer to their growing group of grandchildren. He now serves as UNN's chief political correspondent and host of UpNorthNews Radio, airing weekday mornings 6 a.m.-8 a.m on the Civic Media radio network and the UpNorthNews Facebook page.

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