Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced nearly $11 million in early October to create more affordable housing units in the county.
Eight projects were selected to provide 410 housing units in the city of Madison and 48 units in the towns of Oregon and Fitchburg, according to a county press release. The funding comes from the Dane County Affordable Housing Development Fund, which was created in 2015 to provide funding for affordable housing projects in the county.
According to the 2024 county budget, The Affordable Housing Development Fund has already secured funding for the affordable housing projects. Parisi proposed allocating funds for the projects to address housing accessibility issues for low-income households in the Madison area.
“Through these types of partnerships, we can create more affordable housing projects and, in turn, advance efforts that make housing more accessible in our community,” Parisi said in a press release.
Dane County has faced financial gaps that impact the accessibility of housing and especially affordable housing, with the 2019 Housing Needs Assessment revealing an average rent growth of 2.3% per year. Household income increased 1.3% per year in the same report.
An applicant for funding, Northpointe Development, will receive almost $4.5 million in funding for three of their county projects. The projects will aim to provide affordable housing in the county’s increasingly tight housing market, according to Northpointe principal owner Sean O’Brien.
“We identified a couple of different opportunities to build in locations that we already have a presence,” O’Brien said. “We felt like these were a couple of opportunities to really add to that need and meet that need [for housing] in the county.”
Their biggest project — a 124-unit property at 6706 and 6714 Odana Road — is focused on proximity to local services that can support tenants.
“[The property is] close to schools, jobs and retail,” O’Brien said. “It's right on multiple bus lines really near to the new BRT line for the city of Madison, so it's a very well placed redevelopment.”
The two other projects in Fitchburg and Oregon will cater to families that do not meet the county median income, according to O’Brien.
Beyond the creation of buildings, the projects are also working to address broader housing affordability issues by creating social resources, according to O’Brien.
“We have a supportive service coordinator, and we work with the county and other agencies to find folks that are homeless to occupy those units and then work on connecting them with services so they can maintain housing,” O’Brien said.
The Neighborhood House Community Center, a Madison community center that provides free meals, laundry services and youth programs, also received $1.3 million to provide affordable housing units. The funding would help Neighborhood House construct a building that contains a new community center on the first floor with 50 affordable housing units and 10 market-rate units on the upper floors.
The project would reflect Neighborhood House’s mission to support communities through social services, according to Neighborhood House Community Center Executive Director Laura Gundlach.
“We're excited to have affordable housing and [be] working with other service providers, and being able to support residents at our own community center,” Gundlach said.
The project, located on South Mills Street, will feature various rates depending on residents’ income and depend heavily on funding from the county.
“The funding that we received is huge,” Gundlach said. “I have a whole kind of budget and capital stack that we're working towards, and the scope that will go towards funding affordable housing.”
This funding is just one part of a larger process to construct buildings that can meet accessibility needs in Dane County, O’Brien said.
“When you apply for these funds, it's just the next step into moving your project forward,” O’Brien said. “Affordable housing is getting more and more difficult to do in this environment because your rents are limited, and increasing those rents isn't an option for workforce housing. We as developers just need to get creative and find other sources of financing to fill those gaps.”
The Northpointe Development projects are currently in the process of applying for tax credits in the next year, O’Brien said, while Gundlach said the new Neighborhood House Community Center aims to start construction in late 2024.