MADISON (WKOW) — The city of Madison’s low vacancy rate has been driving up costs, and many residents are struggling to find affordable places to live.
“Rent is becoming expensive,” said Alder Samba Baldeh. “It’s no different than [the] law of economics supply and demand.”
Baldeh is one of the sponsors of a piece of legislation making its way through different committees that would provide funding for three new affordable housing developments in the city. There would be one each in the west, east, and northeast parts of town.
This is a pretty typical practice for the city, Baldeh told 27 News. Each year, they award funding to affordable rental housing property by leveraging Low-Income Housing Tax Credits administered by the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority. For the past several years, they have had about $4.5 million to award.
“It is our responsibility as a government to have people who are very low income living in the city that they like to live,” said Baldeh.
Mayor Satya-Rhodes Conway has proposed an extra $500,000 in her 2020 budget for affordable housing projects. If that is approved, that would be half a million dollars more that could be awarded to these three developments.
Elderberry Place Apartments to the west plans to have 73 affordable units, the as-yet-unnamed Huxley Street development would have 94. The Red Caboose Apartment project off East Washington Avenue would have 32 affordable units. According to the applications, there will also be additional units that aren’t designated as affordable housing.
The affordable units are designed for people or families that earn at or below 60 percent of the area median income.
For one person, that’s about $34,000. For a family of four, it’s about $48,000. For more information on the AMI levels, click here.
The developers also put thought into location. For instance, the Huxley Street development is next to the Northside bus transfer point. The Dane County Job Center is also right next door.
Baldeh said that location is important for each development, because many lower income families don’t have access to cars.
“The city is very strategic in where these housing units are located,” he said. “Not only should we provide housing but we should be able to get people from one place to another to pick up jobs.”
While the mayor is recommending more resources toward affordable housing in the budget, including creating a new fund to make money available to buy land for affordable housing units, Baldeh said he thinks they can do more.
He would like to see more money allocated toward affordable housing, but understands the budget is tight enough as it is.
“The housing market is very tight and so in many cases when that happens, the least economically advantaged among us are the ones who will suffer,” he said. “We need to carry each other along.”