As housing prices and rents continue to rise in Madison, design fairness may be key to progress in affordable housing.
The Madison organization is leading the way in affordable housing among the city’s growing population to address the housing crisis in low-income communities.
Kurt Paulsen, professor of urban planning at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, describes Dane County’s overall narrative as a housing shortage, which means prices are rising and affordability will continue to be an issue in Madison. .
“At the extreme, people who have [lower] spend more than 50% of their income on rent,” Paulsen said. “You see people being double-crossed [which] overcrowding the dwelling. Young people cannot afford to buy a first home. You see homelessness and of course it manifests itself in huge racial disparities in housing charges and home ownership.
In Madison, these effects are compounded by high demand for city living and a lack of available housing.
This dual issue is unique to Madison at the moment. Milwaukee, for example, is experiencing an affordable housing crisis, but also has a greater supply of resources relative to its demand.
Organizations like the Bayview Foundation, a group that focuses on affordable housing with Madison-based design justice, are working to address the issue of affordable housing overlapping and lack of supply for the needs and demands of housing – one solution being design justice. The goal is to connect marginalized communities to the resources needed to address structural inequalities in areas such as housing.
“The other part of the story is that no matter how many new homes you build, [people] who are on a low income will never be able to afford decent quality housing at the low wage rate,” Paulsen said. “You can solve the overall supply problem by building more housing, but you still need to increase state and federal resources for affordable subsidies.”
Over the summer, the Bayview Foundation redeveloped a 50-year-old low-income housing community on the south side of Madison. Also known as the Triangle Neighborhood, residents can expect newly integrated employment services, health services, education, and children’s programs.
City of Madison Community Development Supervisor Linette Rhodes worked alongside the Bayview Foundation in providing funding for community engagement and pre-design work.
The County of Rhodes seeks leveraged funds such as tax credits to reduce the cost of developing a property.
“Some of our biggest challenges [and] some things that are beyond the control of the city are just access to quality areas or quality properties in the city of Madison,” Rhodes said.
Land bank funds allow the city of Madison to begin purchasing quality land and properties, but the competitive housing market may prevent the city from doing so.
While Rhodes aims to meet the need for market-priced housing at the city level, the city also sees a need for property developers to meet the demand of the population. An increase in population means more of a range of incomes.
“There are very few developers who are proactively building low-income units,” Rhodes said. “The other big hurdle the city has is that we just don’t have unlimited funds when it comes to an operating budget.”
Organizations like The Road Home and The Salvation Army provide housing for individuals while offering case management support, but the budget is limited. Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway’s proposed city budget for 2023 calls for doubling the size of the Affordable Housing Fund and allocating $4 million to private-public homeless shelter operations.
Madison Community Development Director Jim O’Keefe focuses on social services needed to support agencies that provide crisis intervention and prevention services, employment training and career programs.
“I think the biggest challenge is trying to help those who have difficulty finding and keeping housing. So housing stability is kind of the big challenge that we’re trying to tackle on a number of fronts,” O’Keefe said.
O’Keefe continues to help increase production of housing – especially low-income housing – and administered $40 million in emergency housing assistance to help families stay in homes, despite the effects of COVID-19.
As part of the new 2023 budget and development efforts, O’Keefe sees the need to expand support services for individuals and families in unstable housing situations, to offer protection from evictions and support for those struggling with mental health and addiction.
“You can’t take someone off the streets and put them in an apartment and expect them to be successful without addressing some of the underlying issues that got them to this point,” O’Keefe said. . “All of these things are linked and we need to do more.”
According to O’Keefe, the Affordable Housing Fund launched in 2015 has created nearly 1,600 new homes for low-income people while doubling the budget.
The affordable housing crisis in Madison is a community concern, according to Rhodes. He says there is a need for more advocates and that affordable housing awareness needs to support community organizations.
“A lot of people are looking to the city or the county to address a lot of those concerns,” Rhodes said. “I just want to emphasize that it’s also about our community partners. »