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Housing is a crucial element of community economic development with many complex considerations, from affordability to quality and diversity. It is a central issue to the attraction and retention of community members. The shortage of housing in rural Wisconsin has far-reaching consequences that impact our local economy and overall quality of life.
Thanks to a unique partnership between Bayfield County and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension, the County is home to the first and only Housing Educator within the UW System. This pilot position means that Bayfield County communities can benefit from additional capacity and technical support at every step in the process of developing new housing – from assessing local needs and priorities, to building community support and crafting Requests for Proposals that attract the right partners to get the job done.
Helpful Resources for Local Government
Bayfield County Housing Readiness & Resources (PDF, 2 pgs, 289 KB)
Housing and Urban Development: www.hud.gov/hudprograms
Federal Housing Finance Agency: www.fhfa.gov
Housing Assistance Council: https://ruralhome.org/
Helpful Resources for Individuals
Northwest Regional Housing Program (PDF, 2 pgs, 196 KB)
Northwest Wisconsin Community Service Agency: https://northwest-csa.org/housing/
City of Washburn & Bayfield County Housing Authority: https://bayfieldcountyhousing.org/
HUD Rental Assistance: https://www.hud.gov/topics/rental_assistance
About the Housing Educator
The Housing Educator will help communities navigate and coordinate housing development processes in partnership with local governments and other stakeholders. Initial focus includes:
– Implementing community-based solutions and programs developed in partnership with the WHEDA Rural Affordable Workforce Housing Initiative, including local land trust model development, small developer engagement, cross-community coordination for scattered site development, and addressing housing-focused zoning needs.
– Supporting communities through the process of engaging developers with RFP issuance.
– Developing communication strategies to build equitable community awareness and fluency around housing needs and solutions.
The Housing Educator uses a community-driven approach to address local community housing needs in an effort to improve economic resiliency and overall quality of life. The Housing Educator also plays a lead role in supporting education and research related to rural housing development efforts that serve Bayfield County and other rural areas of Wisconsin by:
– Assessing housing market-related dynamics such as demand, supply, inputs (e.g., building supplies, labor, interest rates), population change, workforce needs, housing development strategies, and how these dynamics lead to different needs, outcomes, and appropriate goals.
– Providing guidance to communities as they navigate the complexities of housing development (e.g., dynamics between community, developers, and funders; coordination public-private interests and investments; pulling and supplying necessary data to inform grant applications, housing policies, and development decisions).
– Building organizational capacity among local governments to address emerging housing needs.
– Developing regional collaborations, partnerships, and educational responses (e.g. workshops, peer networks, facilitated processes) that meet these challenges and focus on working with state, local and tribal agencies to address housing challenges through community-led processes.
University of Wisconsin-Madison Extension Bayfield County || Courthouse-117 E 5th Street, PO Box 218 || Washburn, WI 54891
711 for Wisconsin Relay (TDD)
Kelly Westlund, Housing Outreach Educator ||715-373-3286 || Email