While housing and land use issues are often seen as metropolitan challenges, they can also affect rural prosperity across Wisconsin. The programs below are just a few of the resources available to rural Wisconsin communities as they explore their best opportunities to meet the housing needs of their residents.
Housing and rental resources
Focus on Energy
Focus on Energy offers a range of rebates, services, and information to support the energy efficiency efforts of Wisconsin residents. The program is funded by Wisconsin’s investor-owned energy utilities and participating municipal and electric cooperative utilities.
Homebuyer and Rehabilitation Program
This program was established by the Wisconsin Division of Energy, Housing, and Community Resources to help low- and moderate-income residents buy or rehabilitate their homes.
Wisconsin Help for Homeowners Program
A new statewide program, Wisconsin Help for Homeowners, can help with overdue bills such as mortgage payments, property taxes, utilities, and more. The program is open to individuals and families who live in Wisconsin, meet income and other eligibility requirements, and have experienced a qualified economic hardship since Jan. 21, 2020. The federally funded program was launched by the Wisconsin Department of Administration, the State Treasurer’s Office, and the Wisconsin Community Action Program Association.
Take Root Wisconsin
Take Root Wisconsin is a new statewide home ownership network that brings together private and public stakeholders to reduce barriers to home ownership and help people fix and stay in their homes. The network is a consortium of community organizations, housing counseling agencies, real estate agents, lenders, government leaders, and other groups working to promote sustainable home ownership.
Tenant Resource Center
The nonprofit Tenant Resource Center provides information and referrals, education about rental rights and responsibilities, and access to conflict resolution.
Veterans Rental Assistance Program
This state program offers help in paying for rent, late fees, and security deposits for veterans who meet income eligibility requirements.
Home ownership financing
WHEDA Advantage Conventional First Mortgage Loan
30-year fixed-rate loan for purchase (or a WHEDA-to-WHEDA refinance) of a single-family residence, condo, two- to four-unit, or manufactured home (double-wide). Eligible borrowers can receive a reduced interest rate when buying a home in the following rural Wisconsin counties: Ashland, Barron, Bayfield, Burnett, Clark, Crawford, Iron, Jackson, Juneau, Marinette, Marquette, Oconto, Rusk, Sawyer, and Trempealeau.
WHEDA Advantage FHA First Mortgage Loan
30-year fixed-rate loan for purchase of a single-family residence, two-unit, or HUD-approved condominium. Eligible borrowers can receive a reduced interest rate when buying a home in the following rural Wisconsin counties: Ashland, Barron, Bayfield, Burnett, Clark, Crawford, Iron, Jackson, Juneau, Marinette, Marquette, Oconto, Rusk, Sawyer, and Trempealeau.
WHEDA Advantage Conventional Homestyle Renovation Rehabilitation First Mortgage Program
This program allows borrowers to buy and renovate a home with one mortgage. All eligible associated costs may be financed, including six months of mortgage payments if you are unable to occupy your home during renovation. Eligible borrowers can receive a reduced interest rate when buying a home in the following rural Wisconsin counties: Ashland, Barron, Bayfield, Burnett, Clark, Crawford, Iron, Jackson, Juneau, Marinette, Marquette, Oconto, Rusk, Sawyer, and Trempealeau.
WHEDA Easy Close Down Payment Assistance Program
This program can be used with either of WHEDA’s first mortgage programs. It provides a 10-year fixed-rate second mortgage with a monthly payment. The minimum loan amount is $1,000; the maximum loan amount is 6% of the purchase price when partnered with a WHEDA first mortgage loan.
WHEDA Capital Access Down Payment Assistance Program
This program can be used with either of WHEDA’s first mortgage programs. It provides a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with 0% interest and no monthly payments. The loan ranges from $1,000 to $3,050 (or 3% of the purchase price, if greater), depending on the WHEDA first mortgage program with which it is partnered.
WHEDA Home Improvement Loan Program
The new Home Improvement Loan Program is a fixed-rate first or second mortgage of up to $50,000 available to homeowners statewide to enable them to fix or update their current home. Properties must be owner-occupied and owners must meet eligibility requirements.
Infrastructure and capacity building
Neighborhood Stabilization Program
This is a federal program that provides assistance to eligible buyers to acquire and redevelop foreclosed properties to keep them from becoming abandoned and creating neighborhood blight.
Training and technical assistance from the Housing Assistance Council (HAC)
The Housing Assistance Council is a nationwide nonprofit organization that supports affordable housing efforts in rural areas. The council provides below-market-rate financing for affordable housing and community development, as well as research, training, and policy guidance to improve housing conditions for low-income residents in rural communities.
National Rural Housing Conference
The National Rural Housing Conference, presented by the HAC, brings together representatives from local nonprofits, federal agencies, Congress, and state and local governments with industry leaders for two-and-a-half days of training, discussion, and networking about affordable rural housing.
Associates in Commercial Real Estate (ACRE)
This program is an industry-supported initiative that recruits and retains people of color for careers in commercial real estate. The goal of the ACRE program is to expand diversity and inclusion in the commercial real estate industry, including the fields of development, property management, and construction.
Beginning Rural Housing Developer Primer
This guide is specifically geared toward developing affordable housing in rural areas, whether that involves building new housing or rehabilitating existing units. Prepared by the HAC, the guide tackles issues that are unique to rural areas, such as the shortage of housing development professionals, commercial banks, and public water and sewer infrastructure.
State of Wisconsin Housing Tax Credit Subordinate Debt Financing
State of Wisconsin Housing Tax Credit Subordinate Debt Financing is available to for-profit entities, qualified nonprofits, housing authorities, or other organizations that meet criteria established by WHEDA. It must be paired with WHEDA long-term bonds and State of Wisconsin housing tax credits. Rural areas are eligible for loans with no more than $1 of subordinate loan proceeds for every $8 of permanent tax-exempt bond debt.
Tax-Exempt Bond Loan Fixed Rate Term
Provides long-term, below-market, fixed interest rate financing for the construction, acquisition, and rehabilitation of affordable rental housing.
Tax-Exempt Bond Loan Variable Rate
Provides long-term, below-market, variable interest rate financing for the construction, acquisition, and rehabilitation of affordable rental housing. Variable rate loans typically offer a lower interest rate than financing offered on a fixed-rate basis.
Tribal Supportive Housing Institute
Applications are now being accepted to participate in the Wisconsin Tribal Supportive Housing Institute, a six-month program that begins in May 2023. The goal of the institute is to increase capacity within tribal communities to develop supportive housing, both on and off tribal land, and to reduce the timeline for building supportive housing by improving the planning and development process.
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