The Dane County Board of Supervisors approved $8 million in funding for the Affordable Housing Fund at its meeting Monday night, which puts the county “one step closer to ending homelessness.”
The county will invest $2 million per year for the next four years for affordable housing, for a grand total of $8 million to fight homelessness in the county, according to the 2015 county budget.
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The Affordable Housing Fund will be used to purchase and maintain properties and investments, as well as to use grants from the state and federal governments as they become available, according to a statement from the Dane County Board of Supervisors.
Dane County Board Supervisor Heidi Wegleitner, District 2, a lead co-sponsor of the funding proposal, said the funding is one step in the right direction to solve the problem of homelessness in the county.
“There are federal projects and programs in Dane County revolving around housing, but they are limited and the wait-lists are closed, so it’s time [for the state] to get in the game of creating more housing,” she said.
The funding will create projects to create more affordable housing in Dane County by partnering with housing developers, the city of Madison, nonprofit organizations and private companies, Wegleitner said.
“I’m really proud that we are going to do this and are dedicating funds that target the homeless,” Wegleitner said.
County staff will manage the funding and will work to generate projects and develop potential partnerships, hopefully creating more interest on the projects, County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan said.
Though the funding lays the groundwork to develop housing consistently, it needs to be bigger to meet the needs of those who can’t afford housing in Dane County, she said.
More than 70,000 people spend 30 percent or more of their income on housing, Wegleitner said.
“We need to highlight the different faces of the homeless and recognize that it is hard to deal with any other challenges in life if you don’t have a home,” she said.
The funding will come from capital dollars, which means it will have to be paid back through taxpayer dollars, Corrigan said, adding that it is an “important investment.”
“This funding will get us one step closer to ending homelessness in Dane County,” she said.