A proposal to split the city of Madison’s Housing Committee in two may help the commission to meet quorum for the first time in months.
According to Ald. Scott Resnick, District 8, he and other city officials plan to introduce reforms that would split the commission into two smaller committees, titled the Landlord and Tenant Issues Committee and Housing Strategy Committee.
Resnick said splitting the committee would make it easier to meet quorum, which requires half of the committee to be present at meetings. At 15 members, the Housing Committee is currently one of the largest city commissions and has five vacant seats, making it more difficult for half the committee to be in attendance at meetings.
He added that the committee has been able to meet quorum only three times in the last year, severely curbing its ability to discuss salient housing issues in Madison.
Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, a co-sponsor of the proposal, said the reform is necessary to making the Housing Committee a more functional, efficient component of the city.
“What we’re doing here is recognizing the fact that the Housing Committee is one of the largest in City Hall, and it’s dysfunctional,” Verveer said. “Realizing the committee has not been effective in the last couple of years, we have to end this joke of a committee, due to its structure and lack of appointments.”
Splitting the committee would also allow city officials to be more focused in their discussions of housing issues, Resnick said.
“Essentially what we’re doing is splitting some of those responsibilities between two committees, so you will end up having a more focused committee — one that will dive into tenant laws and another that will dive into housing strategy,” Resnick said.
Verveer said affordable housing, both for students and other Madison citizens, will be a main focus for the Housing Strategy Committee.
Resnick added the committee would be especially pertinent to campus because it would address whether an appropriate mix of high-rise apartments and houses are available to students with a wide range of incomes.
The two proposed committees would better reflect city housing issues, including recent tenant-landlord laws passed by the state Legislature, Verveer said.
“[The Landlord and Tenant Issues Committee] can look for creative solutions that other communities are doing that protect tenants confined by [the recent tenant-landlord law],” Resnick said.
Resnick cited an ordinance he hopes to propose in the near future that would impact how locks are changed in Madison homes. He said this and other creative solutions would be discussed by the Landlord and Tenant Issues Committee and would better resolve the housing issues Madison residents are currently facing.
Resnick, Verveer, Mayor Paul Soglin and Ald. Sue Ellingson, District 13, will introduce the reforms at the City Council meeting Tuesday evening.
Resnick said, “ironically,” the reform will be sent to the Housing Committee for discussion, despite the fact the commission has struggled to meet quorum. He said other committees, including the Economic Development Committee, will likely take up the reform at their meetings this week to ensure it is considered.