Everything You Need to Know About Wisconsin’s New Affordable Housing Package

Housing construction exterior

(Image via Shutterstock)

By Fiona Hatch
July 14, 2023

A new package signed by Gov. Tony Evers to bring changes to housing development, increase options for working-class families.

As communities and prospective homebuyers cope with rising prices and a historically tight supply, Gov. Tony Evers has signed a bipartisan affordable housing package into law.

“Access to safe, reliable, and affordable housing statewide is an absolutely critical part of addressing Wisconsin’s long-standing workforce challenges,” Evers said in a statement.

The package — with more than a half-million dollars in assistance — sailed through the Assembly and the Senate before arriving on the governor’s desk.

Housing High and in Short Supply in Wisconsin

The national increase in housing demand and home values was already a problem when it was exacerbated by the pandemic. 

Wisconsinites (and their bank accounts) have felt these market changes. Median house prices reached an all-time high this year, with a 6.0% year-over-year increase reported in May. 

Average rent has also been impacted by this influx in demand. Wisconsin’s two biggest cities have been the hardest hit by rising prices. Madison saw a 28.2% increase in average rent in 2021 and 2022, and another 7.4% so far in 2023. Milwaukee is only slightly better off: median rent prices increased by 11.5% from 2021-2022. 

What’s in the New Package?

Evers’ goal is to expand access to affordable housing for working-class families. The Joint Committee on Finance set aside $525 million dollars to put toward the workforce housing efforts. The package contains five bills, each establishing a new loan program that encourages investment in housing repair and development. 

2023 Wisconsin Act 14: Creates a loan fund program for housing developers that would help front the cost of projects focused on improving public infrastructure that is related to workforce or senior housing. This could increase investment in older home repairs that improve home safety and quality.  

2023 Wisconsin Act 15: Creates a loan fund program similar to Act 14, except that it applies to owners of rental properties. 

2023 Wisconsin Act 16: Changes the procedure for making local land use decisions regarding residential development. This is only applicable to developers seeking approval for any application related to residential development, such as building or zoning on local land. 

2023 Wisconsin Act 17: Modifies the Workforce Housing Rehabilitation Loan Program to make it easier for homeowners to apply for a loan to rehabilitate their houses. This has the potential to increase home safety by making it easier to afford to repair or replace house amenities. 

2023 Wisconsin Act 18: Creates a loan program for a housing developer to purchase a vacant commercial property with the intention of building workforce or senior housing. This could increase the number of properties being built for the workforce or senior populations in Wisconsin. 

Simply put, these loans will open up opportunities to improve the quality of current homes, expand public infrastructure to make more housing options available, and increase the amount of workforce and senior housing. 

Bottom Line

This new package of legislation is the next step toward increasing the supply of houses and apartment units in price ranges for middle-class families, without risking the quality of the homes on the market.

The state budget bill, now signed by Evers, has additional affordable housing initiatives.


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