Housing Offers Range of Assistance Programs
Commerceís Bureau of Housing
(BOH): 1) provides federally-funded housing grants or loans through
local organizations; 2) channels state housing funds though local
partners; 3) coordinates its housing assistance programs with those
of other state and local housing agencies; 4) develops state housing
policy; and 5) provides housing information and technical assistance.
The bureau distributes more than $40 million annually to improve
and increase housing choices for Wisconsin residents of modest means.
Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)
BOH administers Wisconsin's federally-funded CDBG Housing program
for small cities (cities, towns, and villages with populations
less than 50,000 and counties other than Milwaukee, Waukesha and
Dane). These eligible units of local government compete for CDBG
funds that are used for housing and neighborhood improvement programs
principally benefiting low- and moderate-income households.
Over $7 million is awarded each year for 18-month
grants. Approximately 18 communities are awarded funds yearly.
CDBG funds are used for various housing and neighborhood revitalization
activities including housing rehabilitation, acquisition, relocation,
demolition of dilapidated structures, and handicap accessibility
improvements. Special projects that create additional affordable
housing units are also eligible for funding. For program information
call (608) 267-3682.
Community Development Block Grant -
Emergency Assistance (CDBG-EAP)
BOH has established a $2 million Emergency Fund for disasters in communities
eligible to participate in the Small Cities Community Development Block
Grant Housing Program. CDBG-EAP funds may be used to repair uninsured
housing damage caused by floods, tornadoes or other disasters. The funds
may also be used to reimburse property owners for disaster-related repairs
made prior to the receipt of the grant funds, as well as to replace housing
units severely damaged in the disaster. CDBG-EAP funds are intended to
primarily benefit low- to moderate-income households. Program information
may be obtained by calling (608) 267-3682.
Federal Home Investment Partnerships
The State of Wisconsin receives about $14 million in federal HOME housing
funds per year. The funds are used to create housing opportunities for
Eligible activities include:
- Rental Rehabilitation Program (608-267-6908)
to improve rental properties serving lower-income households in several
- Home Repair Program (608-266-9185)
administered by a statewide network of community-based agencies
making needed home repairs and accessibility improvements in owner-occupied
- HOME Homebuyer
program (608-267-6904) which provides down payment/closing
cost and rehabilitation assistance for purchases of homes; and
- Rental Housing Development (608-267-0602)
activities, which include new construction and acquisition/rehabilitation
projects undertaken by eligible housing development organizations and
through a set-aside combining HOME funds with WHEDA bonding or tax credit
The Bureau administers several federal and state housing programs that
provide shelter and services for individuals and families who are homeless.
- Over $1.13 million in operating subsidies, through the State Shelter
Subsidy Grant, is awarded annually to agencies providing assistance
to homeless persons.
- Interest Bearing Real Estate Trust Account (IBRETA) funds are collected
annually from Wisconsin financial institutions. The total amount of
these funds is distributed to homeless programs.
- A total of $375,000 is available annually for transitional housing
and service program expansion through the State Transitional Housing
- The HUD Emergency Shelter Grant Program provides approximately $1.8
million annually to agencies for emergency shelter and transitional
- The Bureau distributes over $275,000 in Housing Opportunities for
Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) funds per year. Last year the AIDS Resource
Center of Wisconsin received these HUD resources to serve individuals
and families affected by AIDS/HIV across the state outside of the Milwaukee
- On an annual basis, the Bureau competes on the federal level for HUD
Continuum of Care Supportive Housing funds. These funds support a variety
of transitional and permanent housing programs for homeless persons
in the areas of the state outside of Milwaukee, Madison and Racine.
BOH receives approximately $4-$5 million each year.
- Wisconsin Service Point is a Web-enabled database software program
implemented in Wisconsin to help assess the scope of homelessness and
the level of services available for homeless persons in the state. It
includes over 100 partner agencies.
- The FrontDoor program is a Web-enabled software database program of
social service agencies and programs, and affordable housing units throughout
Wisconsin. It is expected to be on line in early 2004.
Grant cycles for state and federal homeless programs occur throughout
the year. Detailed information about grant application and contract cycles,
as well as Continuum of Care activities, is available from the BOH at
Housing Cost Reduction Initiative (HCRI)
Local sponsors compete for state HCRI funds to provide assistance to reduce
the housing costs of low- and moderate-income households and encourage
the purchase of affordable housing units. The money may be used for a
wide variety of housing activities, from closing costs and down payment
assistance for homebuyers, to rent and security deposit assistance for
renters and homeless persons. The program uses funds to help people stabilize
their housing situation, enabling individuals and families to obtain affordable
HCRI funds are generally combined with federal HOME homebuyer funds to
provide flexibility for funding recipients and help generate required
federal match. Each year approximately 23 awards are made from the $2.8
million in available HCRI and $3 million in HOME Homebuyer funds.
Organizations that are eligible to compete for funds include local governments,
housing authorities, non-profit and for-profit corporations, and Native
American Indian Tribes. Additional information is available by calling
Local Housing Organization Grant (LHOG)
Through state LHOG grants, the Bureau provides assistance to local housing
organizations to improve their capacity to provide affordable housing
opportunities for low-income households. These funds can be used for a
variety of activities, including housing counseling, grantsmanship, administrative
costs, and other expenses related to improving the organization's ability
to serve local housing needs. LHOG grants cannot be used to pay for construction
or other capital improvements and requires a one-to-one match.
Approximately $500,000 is awarded annually to about 18 local organizations.
The grants allow local organizations to develop a variety of affordable
housing initiatives. Organizations that are eligible to compete for funds
include housing authorities, Native American Indian Tribes and for-profit
and non-profit corporations. Information on the LHOG Program may be obtained
by calling (608) 267-6905.
Wisconsin Fresh Start Program
The Wisconsin Fresh Start Program grants are awarded to agencies to establish
and sustain programs based on the Operation Fresh Start, Inc., service
model. The program is designed to provide on-site housing construction
and rehabilitation work experience, off-site academic classes, and supportive
services for at-risk young people - primarily high school dropouts - ages
16-24. Funding sources originate from HUD and several state agencies.
Information regarding the Fresh Start Program may be obtained by calling
As the state's designated housing agency, the Bureau provides
information, research, and guidance on housing issues to the Administration
and the Legislature; one responsibility is to prepare housing impact analysis
on pending legislation. It also conducts extensive outreach efforts, both
formal and informal, analyzes current housing trends and programs, and
develops housing initiatives that will address gaps in Wisconsin's housing
State Consolidated Plan
The Bureau is responsible for working with other agencies and preparing
the state's Consolidated Plan for addressing housing and community development
needs. The Plan provides a statistical review of housing conditions in
Wisconsin and outlines strategies for providing affordable and special
needs housing where needed. The plan is required by the U.S. Department
of Housing and Urban Development to be eligible for various funding programs.
It is also used to certify the consistency of certain local federally
funded projects and public housing authority plans. The Bureau is also
responsible for compiling an annual performance report that summarizes
achievements towards meeting Consolidated Plan goals and a Fair Housing
Plan. For more information call (608) 264-6110.
The Department of Administrationís Division of Intergovernmental Relations
Demographic Services Center and the Bureau of Housing, in conjunction
with the UW Madisonís Applied Population Laboratory, offers an online
data retrieval system to display various housing, population and other
information called WisStat. The data is mainly comprised from the U.S.
Census Bureau and is available at the state, county and municipal levels.
The information is especially helpful to communities and developers completing
The Web address for the system is http://wisstat.wisc.edu.
Questions or comments on WisStat should be directed to Jim Beaudoin of
the Applied Population Laboratory (firstname.lastname@example.org)
or Bob Naylor of the Demographic Services Center (email@example.com).
Providing information about housing is accomplished through a variety
of publications, information systems, training sessions, public hearings
and conferences. The Bureau also works toward improving public understanding
and awareness of housing issues. Input regarding how the state can help
with development of affordable housing is continuously sought from organizations
and individuals. The Bureau also handles a variety of housing inquiries
from individuals, and supplies fact sheets and resource guides.
For further information on housing programs, contact Marty Evanson, 608/267-2713