Press Release: Gov. Evers, WHEDA Announce Vacancy-to-Vitality First Round Recipients for Affordable Housing

Office of Governor Tony Evers
Gov. Evers, WHEDA Announce Vacancy-to-Vitality First-Round Recipients for Affordable Housing
More than 300 units planned for the first $3 million in funding
MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers, together with the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA), announced today the first round of awards for the Vacancy-to-Vitality Loan Program, developed from the historic state funding provided by the 2023-25 biennial budget signed by Gov. Evers.

“We are delivering on our commitment to expand affordable housing to support workers and families across our state, which is a critical part of making sure Wisconsin is prepared to meet the needs of a 21st-century workforce in a 21st-century economy,” said Gov. Evers. “These investments will enable communities to create more than 300 affordable units, building upon our administration’s efforts to invest in building over 24,000 units since I took office. This is great news, and I look forward to continuing our efforts to get these funds out the door to help expand affordable housing across our state.”

Of the six applications received, three were deemed eligible for funding from the Vacancy-to-Vitality Loan Program. The Canyons and Summit Ridge Apartments will provide 130 units of much-needed affordable housing in Dane County, where the rental gap in the lowest income band exceeds 11,000 units, according to the 2022 city of Madison’s Housing Snapshot Report. Each project will receive $1 million.

The Flats at Bishops Woods in the city of Brookfield, also receiving $1 million, will add 203 units to the affordable housing inventory in Waukesha County. According to a housing study of Waukesha County released by the Wisconsin Policy Forum, between 2013 and 2023, Waukesha County only had three developments totaling 176 affordable units that were supported by federal or state low-income housing tax credits, which are typically needed to finance affordable housing developments. With this investment, the number of affordable units in the community will more than double.

“Transforming vacant commercial properties into affordable rental units for Wisconsin residents benefits us all by providing homes for workers, their children, and our aging population who need a safe, stable place to live and thrive,” said WHEDA CEO and Executive Director Elmer Moore Jr. “We are eager to see more proposals from developers around Wisconsin who are looking to make use of empty buildings. Developers, especially those in rural areas of the state, are urged to apply in the next funding cycle, which will come in late summer or fall of 2024.”

The 2023-25 biennial budget signed by Gov. Evers allocated $100 million for the Vacancy-to-Vitality Loan Program, which allows a developer to apply for a loan to cover the costs of converting a vacant commercial building to workforce or senior housing. Developers can apply for up to $1 million or 20 percent of the total project cost, including land at a low-interest rate of three percent or one percent in municipalities with a population of less than 10,000 or senior housing. Applications will be accepted semi-annually until all funds have been disbursed to eligible projects.

Further details on the application awards are available on WHEDA’s website here.
An online version of this release is available here.