Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

5 Milwaukee Projects Get Affordable Housing Funding

Across Wisconsin, WHEDA awards funding for 23 proposed apartment buildings.

By - May 3rd, 2023 12:59 pm
Bronzeville Creative Arts and Technology Hub. Rendering by Engberg Anderson Architects.

Bronzeville Creative Arts and Technology Hub. Rendering by Engberg Anderson Architects.

Five proposed affordable housing developments in Milwaukee secured their key funding source Thursday when the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) announced the winners of its annual housing funding round.

Each of the proposals will be awarded low-income housing tax credits. The income tax credits, commonly sold to institutional investors, provide a key source of equity in exchange for the developer setting aside specific units at federally-regulated, below-market rates for a period of at least 30 years. The credits are the most commonly-used affordable housing funding strategy in Wisconsin and several other states.

The five Milwaukee projects that received credits are the Vet Place Central expansion, Rule Enterprises‘ Greenfield Avenue Commons, Bear Development‘s 100 E. National Ave. project, the arts-and-technology infused Bronzeville Apartments and the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee‘s (HACM) redevelopment of Highland Gardens. All of those projects now have a financing commitment that allows the development teams to enter final design and pursue additional funding sources.

WHEDA awarded credits to 23 proposals that represent more than 1,500 new affordable housing units and placed 24 proposals on hold or declared the applications ineligible. In total, WHEDA awarded $32.4 million in credits.

Two Milwaukee proposals weren’t funded, the Carleton School redevelopment and the Community Development Alliance‘s King Park scattered-site plan, but can reapply in future years.

“The housing shortage we are experiencing is unique, but not exclusive to Wisconsin,” said WHEDA CEO and Executive Director Elmer Moore. “Housing tax credits continue to be a powerful resource to expand housing options for our small and large communities and everywhere in between. We are working diligently with developers to push housing developments over the financing finish line. Together we realize that advancing affordable housing helps our communities and the people we serve thrive and prosper.”

Each state is awarded a limited allocation of federal income tax credits in two different configurations, the smaller of which Wisconsin pairs with a state tax credit. Projects are scored on a point system according to the state agency’s “qualified allocation plan” which incentivizes setting aside units for the lowest-income individuals, proximity to jobs and availability of supportive services.

“Housing tax credits have a proven track record of expanding affordable housing in our state – supporting our workforce, our families, and the well-being of our communities – and demand for these highly competitive housing tax credits continues to outpace supply, emphasizing the need for affordable housing in our rural and urban areas alike,” said Governor Tony Evers. “Together we can drive economic vitality, leverage private capital, strengthen our workforce, maintain our economic momentum and help ensure housing security for folks across our state.”

In addition to Milwaukee, proposals in Baraboo, Brown Deer, Greenfield, Hudson, La Crosse, Madison, Manitowoc, Oregon, Prairie du Chein, Racine, Reedsburg, Stoughton, Viroqua, Waupaca and Wausau received credits.

After receiving an award, construction is still often at least a year away due to challenges in securing additional financing and final design revisions. Once completed, projects are monitored by the state for compliance. Units are set aside at pre-targeted income levels and rents designed to cap rent at no more than 30% of household income for households earning a maximum of 80% of the area median income.

The 2023 awards mark a return to normal for Milwaukee, which saw no new winners in 2022. Local officials attributed that to a large pipeline of previously awarded projects that had yet to advance to construction, partly due to rising costs and COVID-19-related complications. In 2021, 10 Milwaukee projects received funding. Two of the three projects placed on hold last year were not resubmitted for the 2023 funding round; however, HACM applied again for Highland Gardens and received funding.

The credits offer a dollar-for-dollar reduction on income tax bills. Depending on the program, the awards are made for up to 10 years, meaning a $1.2 million award turns into $12 million. In Milwaukee, the Department of City Development has increasingly supported the use of tax incremental financing districts, structured effectively as property tax rebates, to close remaining financing gaps.

2023 Milwaukee Project List

Bronzeville Apartments

Vets Place Central

100 E National

  • Status: Awarded
  • Developer: Bear Development
  • Units: 96 (96 affordable)
  • Type: New construction – Non-profit
  • Credit Request: $2.46 million
  • Program: 4% State
  • Location: 100 E. National Ave.
  • Learn more

Greenfield Ave Commons

Highland Gardens

  • Status: Awarded
  • Developer: Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee
  • Units: 114 (114 affordable)
  • Type: Acquisition Rehabilitation – Elderly
  • Credit Request: $1.92 million
  • Program: 4% State
  • Location: 1818 W. Juneau Ave.
  • Description: HACM applies annually, leveraging the credits to rehabilitate housing often built with earlier federal housing programs.

CDA Scattered Sites MKE

Historic Patterson Place

Full lists of the 4% and 9% credit awards are available on the WHEDA website.

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