A recently released study by Dwellsy, an Internet service, documented that average metro Milwaukee rents rose by 18% from 2021 to 2022. A different analysis by Rent.com shows the average rent in Appleton for a three-bedroom apartment has increased by 117%, and the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Neenah is up by a whopping 146%! These increases are making it harder for families to afford a place to live and leaving less money for food, clothing, transportation, healthcare, and much more.
A growing housing crisis is affecting our families, and the runaway inflation we live through deepens that crisis. Without help, too many parents, children, and seniors will become homeless. It does not have to be this way. The state government can and must do much more to help make housing affordable for our families.
Our state government has an agency specifically responsible for helping low-to-moderate-income families buy single-family homes. The state agency provides mortgages in partnership with local banks and can offer families downpayment assistance. It also is responsible for helping finance developers to build more affordable apartments.
I am calling on Governor Evers and Lt. Governor Barnes to implement my Affordable Housing Action Plan:
- Direct the Wisconsin Housing & Economic Development Authority, often called WHEDA, to open regional Affordable Housing satellite offices collocated with local government or relevant nonprofits to make it more convenient for families to learn about available, affordable housing resources. Currently, the agency only has offices in Madison and Milwaukee.
- Urge WHEDA to host and greatly expand homebuying workshops and educate families on how they can qualify for mortgages and downpayment assistance. With rents rising so quickly in some areas of the state, buying a home may be the more affordable option for some families. They may never know without assistance.
- Expand partnerships with more community banks across Wisconsin to ensure there are significant relationships to process mortgage applications from graduates of WHEDA's homebuying workshops. WHEDA does not offer mortgages directly. Instead, it partners with community banks, which process the applications on behalf of the partnership. Some areas of the state have not had a single WHEDA loan processed and approved. It is time to expand and ensure more excellent coverage.
- Use some of WHEDA's reserve funding to finance building more affordable apartments across our communities. WHEDA typically uses federal and state tax credits to finance the construction of new apartment buildings. Only using those sources is insufficient to meet the growing crisis. The $3 billion authority should reallocate reserves to start more development projects.
- Prioritize adaptive reuse to expedite the production of new apartment units. So many school districts around the state have former school buildings that are no longer being used for education. These solid buildings—sometimes over 100 years old—can be given new life and converted into affordable housing.
Our families and seniors need action…now. It is time for leaders to step up, make state government work for our people and community, and solve real problems facing us.
Will Martin is a candidate seeking the Republican nomination for Lt. Governor. In addition to being a small business owner for 20 years and advising government and private-sector agencies in Great Britain, The Netherlands, and Israel, Martin has served in multiple senior leadership roles for Governors Thompson and Walker.
Learn more at: will4ltgovernor.com
*Paid for by: Will Martin for Lt. Governor*