Key Assembly Committee Holds Public Hearing on Workforce Housing Tax Credit Bill

Wisconsin is a facing a growing housing shortage, which is threatening the economic vitality of local communities in every corner of the state. Wisconsin’s housing stock is aging, and there simply is not enough new housing being built to meet demand, especially for younger workers and growing families.

One of WEDA’s top legislative priorities for the 2021-22 legislative session is to promote the development of much- needed workforce housing for middle-income workers, such as nurses and firefighters who are overqualified for traditional affordable housing, but may not be able to afford market-rate housing. More specifically, WEDA is pursuing legislation (AB 156 / SB 172) that would create a state workforce housing tax credit.

The bill received a public hearing last week before the Assembly Ways and Means Committee. While there were questions raised about how the tax credit would be administered and a few concerns regarding some of the bill’s technical details, the hearing was generally positive and the proposal appeared to have bipartisan support from most of the committee members. WEDA would like to thank Frank Roman who testified in favor of the bill on behalf of WEDA. Frank, who is a longtime WEDA member and an economic development advisor with Ehlers, Inc., did a tremendous job.

The legislation is modeled after Wisconsin’s low-income housing tax credit, but focuses on the so-called “missing middle” of the housing spectrum – housing for working individuals and families earning between 61 percent and 100 percent of area median income (AMI). The proposal would authorize the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) to allocate up to $42 million per year in tax credits for eligible multi-family workforce housing developments.

The bill should continue to move through the legislative process this summer and hopefully be ready for consideration by the full Legislature sometime in the fall. The WEDA Government Affairs Team will keep you updated on this important piece of legislation.