A carpenter frames a house under construction. (Spencer Platt | Getty Images)
A package of bills aimed at making it easier for communities and developers to address a statewide shortage of affordable housing passed both houses of the Legislature Wednesday with broad bipartisan support.
Several of the bills were shaped in consultation with the administration of Gov. Tony Evers, and Republican authors in the Assembly made a point of acknowledging as much during Wednesday’s floor debate on the measures.
“I think we have a really good package. And I actually want to thank the governor for his latest input,” said Rep. Robert Brooks (R-Saukville), chair of the Assembly Housing and Real Estate Committee. All seven measures passed the Assembly on voice votes and went to the Senate.
Four bills (AB-264, AB-265, AB-267, AB-268) provide for lending programs through the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA), including for building new homes, rehabilitating existing homes and converting commercial properties to residential use.
They were immediately added to the Senate’s calendar and passed late Wednesday, along with another bill that puts new limits on who can legally intervene on projects that meet local zoning rules (AB-266).
Of the other two measures, (AB-39) increases the cap for WHEDA’s low-income housing tax credits up to $100,000, more than twice the current $42,000 cap, and (AB-94) expands the use of tax incremental districts if developers finance them. They were sent to a Senate committee Wednesday after passing the Assembly.
“Our goal in this package of bills was not to increase the demand side of the equation, but really to deal with the supply side and bring down housing costs, and not do it through mandates, but do it through the carrot approach and working with our local authorities to bring down mandates,” Brooks said.
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