The Assembly Housing and Real Estate Committee yesterday approved Assembly Bill 859, legislation to help address Wisconsin’s workforce housing crisis.

One of the largest obstacles to continued economic growth in Wisconsin is the state’s current workforce shortage. And a major contributing factor to our labor shortage is the lack of available workforce housing in communities across the state, as it is increasingly difficult for businesses to attract workers if their employees cannot find an affordable place to live.

In an effort to address this growing barrier to additional economic prosperity, WEDA, along with our strategic partners and key legislators developed AB 859 to provide local communities with the necessary tools to advance much-needed workforce housing development.

The legislation, which was approved by the Assembly committee on a bipartisan unanimous vote, includes the following provisions to boost housing stock in communities across the state:

  • Increases the amount of residential development permitted in a “mixed-use” Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) district to 60% of the district. Current law limits residential use to 35% of a mixed-use TIF.
  • Expands from one year to three years the length of time a community may extend the life of a TIF district for the purpose of increasing the amount of workforce housing in the community.
  • Allows communities to exempt workforce housing development from local impact fees.
  • Incentivizes local communities to implement policies that encourage additional workforce housing development.

The bill is scheduled for a public hearing before the Senate Economic Development, Commerce and Trade Committee next week.