I chair the Senate Committee on Housing, Rural Issues & Forestry, and last week I convened the committee for an informational hearing on the housing shortage facing Wisconsin. The committee read and heard reports from the Wisconsin Realtors Association, Wisconsin Builders Association, League of Wisconsin Municipalities, Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, a Professor from UW-Madison, and a planner with Outagamie County.
We know that in Wisconsin we are not building enough housing to keep up with demand for our growing workforce. Housing costs and rents are rising faster than inflation and incomes and are becoming increasingly out of reach for the needs of those working in jobs that are vital to the success of our communities. Furthermore, businesses will hesitate to locate in areas where there is not adequate housing, and we in rural Wisconsin are well aware of that pressure.
Reports to our committee highlighted the regulatory hoops that developers have to jump through that discourage small-scale development. Outdated land use regulations, growth-limiting policies, code issues such as minimum lot sizes or parking requirements, and over-the-top environmental studies all have paired with rising construction costs to price low- and middle-income homebuyers and renters out of places to live.
My committee plans to hear a bill I co-authored alongside area Representative Dave Armstrong from Rice Lake to increase the amount of Low Income Housing Tax Credits from $42 million to $100 million. This is not going to address every issue but it will incentivize the construction of affordable housing statewide, particularly in rural areas. Furthermore, I will be working with legislators from around the state to address some of the outdated land use regulations that were a common theme from the hearing.
I have every intention of making my important committee a very busy one too, as we continue to find creative solutions to the housing shortages that we face. This national problem of lack of affordable housing hits too close to home (no pun intended) for the people in our corner of the state and it will be one of my top priorities as your State Senator.
Romaine Robert Quinn (R-Cameron) represents the 25th Senate District, which includes all of Douglas, Bayfield, Ashland, Iron, Burnett, Washburn, Barron, and Price Counties, and significant portions of Sawyer County.