Like the rest of the country, Northeast Wisconsin is experiencing an unprecedented lack of housing inventory, especially at prices that are affordable to the average person. Significant underproduction, rising costs for housing materials and labor, rising interest rates, and increasing demand have created a perfect storm.
As one of the largest investments someone can make in their lifetime, property ownership, especially homeownership, can be a very emotional issue. It’s not unreasonable to want to protect that investment, their home. Homeownership can also be very emotional for those who are left out, for those who are finding homeownership is slipping out of their reach. It isn’t unreasonable for most people to want a safe place to call their own, to build some wealth, or to raise a family, to hold memories.
Homeownership can be very emotional, and that’s ok.
But facts and data surrounding housing are also very important. We have only half the inventory needed to meet existing demand, especially in median level prices ($200,000 to $300,000) and we are only creating a quarter of the new housing units needed yearly. For instance, the significant shortage of housing options, especially those affordable to the average person is:
- Creating a greater and greater divide between the haves and the haves-nots. It is pushing the dream of homeownership out of the reach of younger generations. Substantially fewer millennials are homeowners today than Gen X and Baby Boomers were at the same age.
- Creating a wider gap in the rate between black homeownership and white homeownership today than what it was 1960.
- Keeping businesses from being able to grow and thrive. Businesses consistently identify the lack of housing options as one of the top two barriers to recruiting employees to fill job vacancies.
Extensive housing studies have been conducted to figure out how we got here and what we need to fix it. Among the consistently identified needs, one crucial aspect stands out: the need for increased public awareness and education. This initial step is vital to garner support for implementing necessary changes to the local development and building processes. Without overcoming this initial obstacle, opposition to more affordable and diverse housing options will continue to be one of the greatest barriers to fixing the problem.
That is why local chambers of commerce, home builders’ associations, and businesses and economic development groups have joined the Realtors Association of Northeast Wisconsin to create the Housing Now Coalition. The coalition has launched a 12-week public education campaign called Say Yes to Housing!
The goal is to provide the public with facts and information regarding what is happening in our communities regarding housing, provide a clearer picture of the people who are being impacted, and ask support for creating more housing for everyone. The hope is that once the public is armed with more information, they will use their passion for community, strong neighborhoods, equity, and hope for the next generation to move us toward solutions and change.
Find more information about the Housing Now Coalition’s education campaign.
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