Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway calls the plan “Housing Forward.” It is a sweeping framework that aims to address the short-term goal of housing insecurity and the lingering issue of housing shortages across the city.
Matthew Wachter, Madison’s Director of Planning, Community and Economic Development, said the plan builds on extensive research on the city’s housing issues.
“In the last seven years, the city of Madison has written seven different housing reports that look at different parts of the housing market…if you add all of those reports together, it’s 1,000 pages, it’s hundreds of recommendations, so what Housing Forward does is it goes through all of those and pulls out the ideas that rose to the top,” Wachter said.
Under the Housing Forward plan, city zoning regulations would be adjusted to make it easier for private companies to construct new housing developments. That’s part of a goal to see 10,000 new homes constructed every five years.
In addition to protecting existing affordable housing, the plan would mobilize city funding to finance the construction of new affordable units, and buy the necessary land on which to build them. It aims to create 1,250 new affordable units on the same five year timeline.
Also included are affordable housing initiatives aimed at addressing racial and economic inequities in home ownership in Madison, such as working with nonprofits to increase home ownership opportunities for people of color.
In previous efforts to address housing inequities, the city partnered with the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA). In a statement to WORT, WHEDA CEO Joaquín Altoro said this plan is an “innovative approach that reflects the importance of affordable housing in expanding equity and opportunity.”
Under the plan, loan programs and eviction prevention plans would keep current renters and homeowners from being displaced or evicted due to financial hardship. It also aims to build transitional housing.
Madison could see as many as 70,000 new residents moving into the city in the next twenty years. Wachter said that the multifaceted nature of this plan is the key difference between this and all of the previous attempts to address the housing crisis.
“What we’re trying to do is put together a package of solutions, because there is no silver bullet to our housing challenges. It takes these 25 subpoints working together to make sure that we have enough housing, a variety of housing, and housing that is affordable and accessible to everyone in Madison,” Wachter said.
As previous plans did, the Housing Forward plan will also face limitations from Wisconsin state law. State law makes it impossible to pursue rent control and inspections through legislation, and prevents requirements that new housing developments construct affordable housing as well.
The plan now heads to the Common Council for approval.
Photo courtesy of Chali Pittman / WORT News