Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


City explores low-income housing initiative

Citing “a huge lack of affordable housing in the city of Madison,” Ald. Todd Jarrell, District 8, introduced a resolution into the City Council this summer to create the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, founded to help subsidize the building of low-income housing in Madison.

The Madison Common Council adopted the resolution and appointed a subcommittee to investigate ways to provide the foundation with the funds necessary to provide developers with capital to launch housing projects.

“The resolution created a trust fund but no way of putting money into it,” Jarrell said.

Jarrell hopes the new housing will help stabilize rents in the increasingly expensive downtown area.

“The hope is that if we built more affordable housing, it might cause rents throughout Madison to drop,” Jarrell said.

Jarrell said he expects the committee to present its findings to the City Council “within the next month or so,” where the Council will vote on whether or not to designate a portion of the city’s budget to contributing to the foundation.

Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, is concerned about the lack of affordable housing and helped sponsor the resolution, but warns more initiatives beyond the one proposed will be necessary to bring truly affordable housing to Madison.

“This resolution is a step in the right direction, but it is by no means a magic bullet for the problem,” said Verveer, who added that “government participation in the campaign to build affordable housing is critical.”

Ald. Tom Powell, District 5, also a sponsor of the resolution, shares Verveer’s sentiments that government support for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund is crucial to its success.

“Local government hasn’t been doing its fair share to help build low-income housing,” Powell said.

He hopes the fund will collect at least $10 million over the next 10 years.

“Basically, we are creating an endowment fund,” Powell said.

Ald. Brenda Konkel, District 2, another sponsor of the resolution, believes the housing fund might help to counter the influx of condominium projects, which have been multiplying in recent years.

“If we are building condominiums everywhere, we might as well build housing that others can afford,” Konkel said.

Those likely to qualify for the prospective homes are Madison residents earning less than 80 percent of the median county income, which was $71,300 in 2001. Those eligible to rent homes among the housing must earn less than 50 percent of the median county income.

Sites of the potential housing should not be concentrated in one locale, Jarrell said.

“We are hoping homes built with the help of the trust fund would be at scattered sites,” said Jarrell, who added that areas from the downtown to the city’s periphery could be host to the new projects.

Powell agrees with Jarrell, adding that “it’s better to have the low-income housing throughout the city, to have as much of a mix as possible.

Jarrell is confident the plans to build low-income housing would be unlikely to result in the demolition of buildings in neighborhoods students tend to live in.

Although the resolution passed unanimously, Powell said he does expect opposition from the public.

“Everyone’s a fan of low-income housing, as long as it’s not in their neighborhood,” he said.

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