We have a Housing Strategy Committee and a housing coordinator for the city, right? Wrong. (Ok, I’ll answer the question again – I wasn’t really expecting this mayor to do any better the Mayor Dave on housing or homelessness issues – I expected them both to suck. So eliminating that from the equation – Soglin was the better choice. Still believe that, even tho he endorsed against me in 2009.)
BACKGROUND OF DELAY
Last June, 4 months ago now, the city council passed a restructure of the Housing Committee, which essentially hasn’t met since Soglin has been back in office (a year and a half). And, well, they still haven’t met. The committee is supposed to:
(4) Powers and Duties. The Housing Strategy Committee shall have the following powers, duties, and functions:
(a) The Committee will serve as a forum for discussion and communication about housing strategies.
(b) The Committee shall establish a schedule for the Department of Planning and Community and Economic Development to prepare and submit a biennial housing report to the Mayor and the Common Council which will include the following:
1. Current data on Madison and regional housing supply and trends;
2. Strategies for maintaining a broad range of housing choices for all households and income levels; and
3. Strategies for maintaining and increasing affordable owner-occupied and rental housing in Madison and the region.
(c) The Committee will review the biennial housing report prepared by the Department of Planning and Community and Economic Development staff and forward the report with the Committee’s recommendations to the Mayor and Common Council for their action. The schedule should include a Committee public hearing to request recommendations for special problem areas to consider in the next biennial report.
(d) In addition to the foregoing, the Housing Strategy Committee shall have such other powers, duties and functions related to housing as are conferred on it by the Mayor and the Common Council from time to time.
To add insult to injury, the committee hasn’t been appointed because the staff person is finally being hired, the announcement came out yesterday and won’t even close the applications until November 9th. The job description includes:
EXAMPLES OF DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES:
Develop, Coordinate and Oversee Housing Initiatives for City of Madison. Serve as staff to the Housing Strategy Committee. Prepare a biennial housing report for committee review that includes: Current data on the City of Madison and regional housing supply and trends, strategies for maintaining a broad range of housing choices for all households, and strategies for maintaining and increasing affordable housing in the City of Madison and the region. Analyze and develop programs and initiatives that support a broad range of housing choices in the City.
Conduct research on housing trends and benchmark with other cities. Communicate with professionals in the finance, construction, development, sale and management of housing. Maintain relationships with organizations that develop, finance, construct and manage affordable housing. Participate in organizations that have a housing industry focus. Brief Housing Strategy Committee Members on trends in housing markets.
Assist the Community Development Authority with its housing initiatives. Research and analyze alternate funding sources for the development of affordable housing. Assist with planning, development, construction and financing of CDA affordable housing. Provide oversight for existing CDA housing.
Assist other departments and agencies in the creation of housing plans and the implementation of housing initiatives. Advise Planning, Community Development and Economic Development Divisions on the housing market. Participate in the creation of plans that address housing in the City. As needed, provide other City department and agencies with assistance on review of housing developments that have requested financial assistance from the City of Madison.
Perform related work as assigned.
Note: Sounds like this is going to become a tool for the CDA – working on their ridiculously expensive housing initiatives that actually decrease housing opportunities as they continue to use Section 8 vouchers to make their housing affordable – removing them from the private market and another opportunity for affordable housing for another family.
MISSED OPPORTUNITIES/HOUSING CRISIS
So, the city flounders in one of the worst economies anyone can remember where foreclosures are at all time highs and rental vacancies rates are at all time lows. Making rental housing extremely difficult to obtain and increasingly unaffordable. You essentially can’t rent a one-bedroom under $550 in the city (that’s a cheap one bedroom and when I’m writing this, there is one). Requiring someone to make at least $9.50 per hour in order to rent the cheapest apartment in Madison if it is to be affordable using the HUD standard of paying only 30% of your income towards rent. Even worse for renters is that the state removed many protections for tenants, so landlords are taking full advantage of those laws and the vacancy rates and denying people even when they can afford the rent. It was the biggest attack on tenant rights I’ve seen in 20 years and it took them months for the city to even hold a meeting to discuss how to change the local ordinance to reflect the changes and didn’t do anything to help educate tenants and landlords about the changes or work on alternative strategies to address the issues locally. And don’t forget that over47% of people in Madison are renters, while the rest of Wisconsin only 30% are renters. I don’t think you can blame that imbalance all on having 40,000 students in Madison. It’s a housing crisis, but we have no strategy as a city. And, it will be another year before we have one. By the time a person gets hired, gets into their new job, has a housing committee meeting and then the committee gets up to speed and settled in, it might even be 2 years.
Maybe we can have a housing strategy by the next election for Mayor?
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