The affordable housing crisis has been continuing to grow in the U.S. over the last decade. But the COVID-19 pandemic and record-high unemployment have exacerbated an already struggling system.
Here in Milwaukee, there are four different groups tasked with solving different parts of the affordable housing crisis: the City of Milwaukee, the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority, the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee, and the Housing Division of Milwaukee County’s Department of Health and Human Services. Each group is responsible for a variety of programs that serve different functions.
"The city has a lot of different programs that in various ways help to bring more units into the market — whether they’re for renters or for people interested in buying a home at an affordable rate," says Joe Peterangelo, a senior researcher with the Wisconsin Policy Forum, which just released a report analyzing how Milwaukee handles affordable housing.
The report looks at the efficiency of the programs available to residents in Milwaukee, how they compare to other cities, and how things could improve. It looks at examples from Detroit, the Twin Cities, and Madison, and how similar things could be implemented in Milwaukee.
It also lays out three key tips on how Milwaukee could improve the affordable housing landscape in the city: consolidate and clarify organizations and leadership, create a strategic plan, and bring in funding from the private sector. Peterangelo points to Detroit as an example where private sector money and strategic planning was effective.
"The city of Detroit created a strategic housing plan and that called for developing that affordable housing leverage plan. So in developing that plan, they were engaging a lot of private sector organizations as well, " he explains.