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Wisconsin Republicans pitch housing fix by cutting red tape for builders

Builder Sentiment
In this May 14, 2014 photo, a new home is under construction in the Winthrop sub-division in Riverview, Fla. he National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo releases its monthly index of builder sentiment on Monday, June 16, 2014. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara) Chris O’Meara

Wisconsin Republicans pitch housing fix by cutting red tape for builders

October 08, 05:00 PM October 08, 05:00 PM

The latest proposal at the Wisconsin Capitol to find more affordable housing in the state focuses on red tape, builders, and young people.

A handful of Republicans on Thursday introduced their housing reform plan. Among the proposals is a focus on cutting red tape, giving developers and builders tax credits to build new homes, and pushing local communities to allow more homes to be built.

“We need to look into regulations,” Rep. Rob Summerfield, R-Bloomer, said at a statehouse news conference. “Local communities also need to look to see what they can do to help.”

The number two Republican in the Assembly, Rep. Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna, said the lack of affordable homes is driving up the price of homes, particularly first homes.

“Wisconsin’s media age for first time home buyers is now 33,” Steineke explained. “Wisconsin is running a migration deficit with individuals ages 20-24. Wisconsin also has the lowest homeownership rate for households aged 25-34 and 35-44 than all neighboring states, except Illinois.”

Steineke is a realtor himself.

He said the lack of homes is hurting the state’s effort to keep young workers and young families in Wisconsin.

“When you have younger kids that are coming out of college and getting their first jobs, and they’re unable to afford their first home because of rising prices and the lack of available housing it’s a serious problem.

Mary Duff with the Wisconsin’s Realtors Association said it’s a problem not just in high growth areas like the WOW counties or the Fox Valley.

“This is a shortage that’s coming from multiple angles,” Duff said Thursday. “We’re lacking new construction, we’re lacking the ability to develop lots. “

Democrats at the Wisconsin Capitol, including Gov. Evers have proposed their own affordable housing plans. Those proposals, however, focus on helping people pay their rent, or helping people find apartments in high demand areas.

There’s no word when the Republicans plan to vote on their new housing plans.

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