Extension Pilots Community-Led Housing Studies

(Waunakee Housing 1) A developer was able to use the Village of Waunakee’s Housing Task Force Report to obtain a low-income housing tax credit project that broke ground in September 2021.

Over the past three years, the Village of Waunakee, Village of Mount Horeb and City of Portage have worked with the Division of Extension to pilot a community-led housing study program that is designed to increase the availability of workforce and affordable housing.

“The focus is on identifying gaps in workforce housing and affordable housing,” according to Dr. Kristin Runge, Community Economic Development Specialist, “and the goal is to enable a community to fill those gaps.”


(Waunakee Housing 2) A Village of Waunakee neighborhood is being developed according to recommendations outlined in its Extension-led housing task force report.

The program accomplishes this by involving local residents and elected officials in a community-centered housing study using a combination of public data and original research. The county’s Community Development Educator helps the community form a task force. Over a six-to-eight-month period, the Extension educator works with the task force to review community-specific data gathered from the U.S. Census, the local school district, and the municipality’s own tax base. The data is supplemented by a community-wide survey of residents. The results of the monthly data reviews and community survey are used to form recommendations for addressing housing needs. When the data reviews, community survey, and task force recommendations are combined, they create an overview of the local housing market that helps the community articulate its housing needs to developers and other stakeholders who are able to help address those needs.

Dr. Sharon Lezberg and Professor Kathleen Haas worked with Kristin to pilot the program. “Having a skilled community development educator guiding the process is essential to its success,” Dr. Runge explains, “They are able to mobilize the research resources of the University of Wisconsin-Madison to help community residents examine their local housing mix, and they are critical to placing data and information in a context that makes it useful in identifying solutions.”

If you are interested in more information about the community-led housing studies, please contact us.

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