Report: Many WI Renters Struggle to Meet Housing Costs
Despite two years of government initiatives designed to provide financial aid and support to housing insecure residents, Wisconsin is still facing a shortage of affordable housing.
A new report from the National Low-Income Housing Coalition found the state has just 34 affordable and available rental homes for every 100 extremely low-income households.
Brad Paul, executive director of the Wisconsin Community Action Program Association, said pandemic aid programs, while important resources for housing-insecure Wisconsinites, largely failed to address underlying systemic issues.
"The housing crisis that's described in this report and elsewhere certainly got put into overdrive during the pandemic, but it existed before the pandemic," Paul explained. "So it's a pretty safe bet to assume that once we're through this unique moment, we're still going to be faced with a housing crisis."
Paul argued it is up to lawmakers to help close the affordable-housing gap by investing in more affordable housing and other structural changes. In the meantime, he said the Wisconsin Help for Homeowners initiative can help people meet their overdue housing costs. Several counties, municipalities and local organizations also have their own local housing aid programs.
Paul contends it is a crisis with essentially two components: availability and affordability. Per the report, of Wisconsin's 187,000 extremely low-income renter households, nearly three-quarters spend more than half of their earnings on housing costs.
"It really takes a report like this, and some others, that say 'Yeah, housing is expensive for everyone. But, boy, it's really intense at this ELI, or extremely low-income, level,' " Paul remarked.
A separate report from the National Low-Income Housing Coalition finds, on average, a person would need to make nearly $18 an hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment in Wisconsin, nearly three times the state's current minimum wage.