Planning commission seeks solutions to housing issue

Issues with housing include lack of affordable housing and high rent
Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 10:14 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - The North Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission met Wednesday in Wausau to address the lack of affordable housing in the area.

The meeting gave people living in the greater Wausau area the chance to talk about how they feel about the current real estate situation.

Most of the people at the meeting were concerned that housing is taking up 30 to 50 percent of almost half of the population’s take-home pay.

“The affordability is just one piece of it. We’re covering every income from the very lowest price point to the very highest and stuff. I’m talking to realtors, contractors, developers, landlords,” said Senior Planner, Northcentral Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission Samuel Wessel.

Competition makes it nearly impossible for someone to transition from renter to home owner.

“There’s a whole class of people, I don’t have the statistic but it’s almost 48 percent of Wausau households are living paycheck to paycheck,” said Community Impact, Financial Stability and Health Director for the United Way of Marathon County Ben Lee.

The pandemic and supply chain issues haven’t made it easier to solve the problem.

“Also there’s the strong need for lower incomes too which is just difficult to build with construction and labor costs right now,” Wessel said.

The commission says higher end construction frees up some affordable housing, but those properties aren’t always in the best shape.

“A lot of that stuff is aging, so the city also has those programs that fix up existing housing,” Wessel said.

The research into the issue will continue with the input of the people in mind. They expect to present different possible solutions to the city by the end of the year.

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