Housing Supply Solutions


2023 Wisconsin Act 14

Infrastructure Revolving Loans for streets, sewer, water, etc. to service new residential development. (Funded $275 million)

2023 Wisconsin Act 15

Main Street Rehabilitation Revolving Loans to repair and rehabilitate residential rental housing above existing building with a commercial use on the main floor. (Funded $100 million)

2023 Wisconsin Act 16

Judicial Review of local government decisions to increase certainty and predictability in the development-approval process.

2023 Wisconsin Act 17

Wisconsin Housing & Economic Development (WHEDA) program to fund low-interest loans for the rehabilitation of certain residential properties created under 2021 Wis. Act 221. (Funded $50 million)

2023 Wisconsin Act 18

Vacant Commercial-to-Housing conversion revolving loans to fund the redevelopment of vacant commercial buildings into new residential work force housing. (Funded $100 million)

AB 39 / SB 40

Adjustments to the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program.

Memos Supporting Legislation

WRA Memo on

AB 266/SB 296 

NIMBY Opposition to New Housing

Historic $525 Million Housing Inventory Investment

Governor Tony Evers signed into law five historic bipartisan bills that will increase workforce and senior housing inventory in Wisconsin. Additionally, the legislature approved, and the governor signed a budget that funds more than half a billion dollars for loan programs that will help strengthen Wisconsin’s housing inventory.

With statewide housing inventory levels at historic lows and median home prices continuing to rise, Wisconsin has a major workforce and senior housing shortage and action has now been taken.

Wisconsin employers are having difficulty recruiting workers to fill thousands of job openings due to a historic shortage of affordable housing options for workers.

In 2023, Wisconsin created a path to increase in workforce and senior housing statewide.

By-right Approval and Development Certainty

2023 Wisconsin Act 16 provides certainty and predictability in the development approval process, by requiring local governments to approve housing developments if they comply with local regulations. Additionally, the law streamlines the rezoning process and limits the ability of existing residents to oppose the development of new housing after a project has been approved. Expediting the development approval process and eliminating unnecessary delays, reduces costs for developers, thus increasing housing affordability.

2023 Wisconsin Act 16 addresses the workforce housing shortage by creating certainty and predictability by limiting the ability of existing residents to delay or stop the approval of proposed housing developments. 

Single-family Home Permits 2004

Single-family home permits in 2021

Financing Tools 

To create more workforce and senior housing, new financing tools are necessary to fund infrastructure investments for development, the rehabilitation and repair of older housing stock, and converting units above main street and vacant commercial buildings into available workforce housing.

New financing tools will help increase the supply of workforce housing to help Wisconsin employers compete in the global marketplace, which will benefit our state and local economies. Allowing for the repair and rehabilitation of unlikely or rundown properties into residential housing units, creates communities where the workforce can be within walking distance or near transportation, allowing the workforce to live where they work. 

Laws passed and funded in 2023 are aimed at increasing the supply of workforce and senior housing: 


No More Chasing Sales, Fair Assessments for All

Evers signs anti-NIMBY bill, provides appeals bypass Challengers of residential zoning decisions can now go straight to circuit court

Protecting Rental Property Owners

Wisconsin passes legislation to boost affordable housing development

Wisconsin governor signs affordable housing bills, Republicans approve funding

Gov. Tony Evers signs 5 bills to boost affordable housing. Here's what the measures do.

Wisconsin's housing shortage isn't just a quality-of-life issue. It's a workforce issue.

Capitol Insights

Ep. 24

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Capitol Insights

Ep. 23

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Removing Local Barriers to Workforce Housing

Removing Local Barriers to Workforce Housing

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Year-Over-Year Dip in Home Sales (February)

Additional Resources

Industry expert predicts declining statewide home sales during peak months due to low listings

Read more on the BizTimes

Homeownership dreams foiled by a ‘perfect storm’

Read more on the PBS Wisconsin

Fast Facts: Wisconsin’s rising housing costs

Read more on the PBS Wisconsin

Moore, Steil discuss housing inequities in Milwaukee

Read more on the PBS Wisconsin

Newsmakers: Make More Workforce Housing

Assembly Committee on Housing and Real Estate

Wisconsin’s roller coaster housing market for millennials

Walworth County Owner-Occupied Housing Report

The results for the entire Walworth County housing market show signs of a shortage in the medium to long term. Policy changes that address this disequilibrium may improve the health of the owner-occupied housing market and prevent the current housing shortage from compounding.

Of particular note, our results suggest a significant shortage of affordable owner-occupied housing — i.e., the price bracket of homes that includes starter homes.

Results from Western Racine and Kenosha counties also suggest an even more pronounced overall shortage of housing than Walworth County as well as a similarly pronounced shortage particular to affordable owner occupied housing.

Policy that addresses this sector of the housing market — for example, policies that reduce fixed development costs, which most heavily impact the development of the most affordable homes— may improve the overall health of the entire housing market and ensure that there is sufficient supply of
affordable owner-occupied homes.

Local communities must remember that development fees such as building permits, stormwater management or plat review fees; impact fees; and the approval process itself all contribute to the cost and affordability of housing. Moreover, these costs are generally fixed regardless of the price or size of housing and, thus, have a regressive effect on the affordability of housing.

One change that could encourage housing development is to establish a consistent schedule of low fees and non-onerous regulations across communities, or setting reduced fees for starter-priced homes. The fees, permits and processes a prospective developer must adhere to vary considerably between communities. These hurdles create inefficient “shoe leather” costs, or the additional costs from time and effort that developers are required to incur while parsing through differing standards.

The additional costs are inevitably passed on to the homebuyer or may even discourage developers from constructing affordable owner-occupied housing altogether and instead choose to construct larger homes with higher profit margins where these costs can be more easily absorbed. Ultimately, such costs are either passed on to the homebuyer, prevent the expansion of the affordable owner-occupied housing stock, or both.

Wisconsin’s Housing Challenge: Inadequate supply, declining affordability

Prof. Kurt Paulsen, October 2021
Wisconsin Real Estate and Economic Outlook Conference
Wisconsin’s Housing Challenge: Inadequate supply, declining affordability
PDF (1.1 MB)


State Republicans Propose New Zoning and Development Bills

Gov. Evers called it a “good step” toward addressing affordable housing shortage.

City, county groups push back against GOP bills geared toward affordable housing, property assessments

A handful of GOP-authored bills aimed at increasing affordable housing options across the state has received pushback from Wisconsin city, town and county organizations for seeking to impose mandates on local entities, including one bill that would give state authority over where homeless people can set up campsites.

Restrictive zoning policies shut door to affordable housing in some suburbs

Amy Kaiser is a recently divorced mother of two children. She’s 38-years-old, has a college degree and works at a bank in Elm Grove, earning what she describes as a lower-middle-class income.

Kaiser was living in Brookfield, but recently had to move to an eight-unit apartment complex in West Allis after a divorce.

Wisconsin Assembly passes workforce housing bills

ADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Wisconsin Assembly has passed a package of bills touted by Republicans and the state’s building and real estate industries as a way to create more affordable housing for workers, reduce regulations and reform outdated practices.
Wisconsin Assembly passes workforce housing bills