Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, joined by builders, realtors, and members of environmental advocacy groups, today announced a major, new initiative to integrate affordable housing and good land use and transportation objectives.
Falk backed up the proposals with $400,000 of the county’s federal HOME funds to be used by a public-private housing development fund.
“Three years ago, a coalition of environmentalists, builders, Realtors and others worked together to develop and promote passage of the New Conservation Fund,” said Falk . As a result, 75 percent of Dane County voters supported putting $30 million over 10 years into saving important park lands and special natural areas in Dane County.
Falk said, “Now, we’re ready to take on another big challenge--affordable housing and good land use. The Housing-Land Use Partnership of private sector organizations has found ways to make affordable housing and land use complementary, not competitive, goals. I am very gratified for their commitment to our community and their effort in launching this important work.”
An 18-page report, entitled “Affordable Housing and Land Use: A Report and Recommendations for Action,” was released.
Organizations signing on as supporting the report include the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, Realtors Association of South Central Wisconsin, Madison Area Builders Association, Wisconsin Partnership for Housing Development, League of Women Voters of Dane County, Madison Audubon Society, 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, Trout Unlimited, Citizens for a Better Environment, Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin, and Four Lakes Group of the Sierra Club.
Madison Mayor Sue Bauman and Monona Mayor Tom Metcalfe also support the group’s recommendations.
“It's important to remember that none of this report is final,” said Falk. “It is a beginning. We will seek broad input on these ideas. Action by many of the 62 units of local government in our county will be needed if these recommendations are going to happen.”
The report calls for promoting more regional collaboration in planning, transportation and housing, including a regional transit plan. The Report outlines recommendations on:
Ways to focus more public and private resources into housing development
Reductions in development costs through more efficient land use and expedited permitted procedures
Identifying priority areas for development to promote transit use, and away from farmland and natural areas.
Ways to protect farmland and natural areas.
One of the recommendations is to establish a housing development entity as a public-private partnership with dollars raised from business, non-profit and local government sources that would jump-start affordable housing development in Dane County. The housing opportunities would be in locations and patterns that reflect sound land-use decisions and convenience to employment.
The housing development entity would, for example:
Purchase suitable land for affordable housing, with a later sale to qualified developers
Acquire and remediate brownfields, or other infill development sites, with subsequent sale to a developer
Purchase buildings, prepare housing development plans, and move the buildings through the approval process, with later sale to qualified developers, and
Create loan funds to finance the above activities and make downpayment and rehabilitation loans.
Falk indicated that $400,000 the county has acquired through the federal HOME program would be made available to support the housing development fund and its affordable housing objectives.
“Both good land use and having affordable housing for a range of income groups, so that people can afford to live and work in Dane County, are crucial to our quality of life. This is a big step forward on both issues,” said Falk.
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