submitted by Stan Inhorn; photo by Mary Ellen O’Brien
Kurt Paulsen, UW Associate Professor of Urban Planning, reviewed the issues regarding the workforce housing shortage in Dane County and its impact on the economy. Currently, Dane County’s population is increasing 1.3% a year, with job creation at 1.7%, and new housing units at 1.1%, so housing is not keeping up with population demand. In addition, rents are rising faster than income, so many are excluded from living in Madison. Presently, more than 100,000 workers live outside Dane County, which means that they have long commutes.
Affordability is another major issue. Affordability examines price to income ratio, which should be below 3. So for a $150,000 home, the household income should be over $50,000. In Dane County, affordability is a challenge since few new homes are in the middle income range. Rents are just barely affordable for middle-income workers. The large, new apartment buildings downtown were designed for the influx of high-salaried employees at companies such as EPIC. Too few new apartments have been built for lower-salary workers who can’t afford to live near where they work.
If builders were encouraged by federal or state programs to build affordable housing, it would reduce the burden, but it would take about 30 years to complete. Furthermore, it would not address the issue of African American ownership. Wisconsin has the 6th worst record in the United States for ownership by African Americans which is also reflected in the county and city.
To address the problem in Dane County, it is estimated that 53,000 to 59,000 new housing units should be built in the next 20 years. So greater Madison will either grow up or grow out. There will be more density in the central area and more neighborhoods in the suburbs. Smaller homes will help to keep down the costs of building, and mass transportation will relieve the congestion on the highways.
Did you miss our meeting this week? You can watch the video here.