The housing plan recommends that communities identified as having a projected shortage of appropriate workforce housing analyze the relationship between job wages and housing costs when they update their comprehensive plans. If the analysis indicates a potential shortage of lower-cost housing in relation to the number of lower-wage jobs, consideration should be given to identifying additional areas in the community for the development of modest multi-family housing. If the analysis indicates a potential shortage of moderate-cost housing in relation to the number of moderate-wage jobs, consideration should be given to identifying additional areas in the community for the development of modest single- and two-family housing. Communities with major job centers and a potential shortage of lower-cost housing should also consider working with developers or public agencies to provide tax credit housing in the community.
Analysis of Community Land Use Plans
As part of the housing plan, the land use plan maps adopted as part of community comprehensive plans were analyzed to determine the potential number and type of jobs and the number and type of housing units that could be accommodated in the Region. The projected job/housing balance analysis was limited to areas planned by local governments to be provided with sanitary sewer service by 2035, because the primary concern addressed by the analysis is determining if communities with a significant amount of existing and/or planned land uses that accommodate employment have also planned for suitable workforce housing. Local governments in portions of the Region that are not served by sanitary sewer typically do not designate extensive areas for commercial and industrial land uses or medium to high density residential land uses, which would accommodate jobs and affordable housing, respectively.
Planned housing units in each community were placed into lower-, moderate-, and higher-cost categories based on the housing type and density categories in each local plan. Generally, lower-cost housing includes multi-family dwellings and two- and single-family dwellings at existing or planned densities of 6,000 square feet or less per dwelling unit, and moderately-priced housing includes two- and single-family dwellings at densities equating to one dwelling per 6,000 to 20,000 square feet for homes constructed prior to 2000 and to densities equating to one dwelling per 6,000 to 10,000 square feet for planned residential areas. Planned jobs were placed into lower-, moderate, and higher-wage categories based on the type of jobs likely to be accommodated within areas designated for commercial, industrial, and institutional uses by local plans and the wages for those job types in 2010. The percentage of lower-cost housing and lower-wage jobs; moderate-cost housing and moderate-wage jobs; and higher-cost housing and higher-wage jobs that would likely be accommodated based on community land use plans was compared, with the following results:
A lower-cost job/housing imbalance refers to sewered communities projected to have a higher percentage of lower-wage jobs than lower-cost housing (see map). Additional modest multi-family housing at densities of at least 10 housing units per acre may help to correct projected lower-cost job/housing imbalances.
A moderate-cost job/housing imbalance refers to sewered communities projected to have a higher percentage of moderate-wage jobs than moderate-cost housing (see map). Additional modest single- and two-family housing at densities of at least four housing units per acre may help to correct projected moderate-cost job/housing imbalances.
Several sewered communities (see map) are projected to have both lower-cost and moderate-cost job/housing imbalances. Additional modest housing at higher densities (at least 10 units per acre for multi-family housing and at least four units per acre for single- and two-family housing) may help correct the projected imbalances.
Although the Cities of Kenosha, Milwaukee, and Racine do not have job/housing imbalances, these cities have among the highest percentages of households with a high housing cost burden. These areas also have high unemployment rates and low median earnings compared to other portions of the Region. Although lower- and moderate-cost housing is plentiful, the high number of extremely- and very-low income households makes finding decent affordable housing difficult. Affordable housing strategies in these areas should include economic and workforce development components to help reduce high housing cost burdens.
A description of the methodology and findings of the job-housing balance analysis is available here.
Transit Connections Between Jobs and Affordable Housing
Improved transit service would help provide links between affordable housing and jobs, particularly for households without access to a car. In 2005-2009, 9 percent of households in the Region, 13 percent of households in Milwaukee County, and 17 percent of households in the City of Milwaukee did not have access to a car. Map 98 shows the location of employers with 500 employees or more in Milwaukee County and 100 or more employees in the other six Counties in the Region and areas served by public transit in 2010. About 41 percent of these employers are accessible by local or rapid transit service.
Many major employment centers that are not currently served by public transit would become accessible by public transit under the recommended 2035 regional transportation system plan, as shown on Map 101. The public transit element of the 2035 regional transportation system plan recommends a significant increase in service areas, hours, and frequency, which would substantially increase access to employment opportunities for people without access to a car, including those working second and third shifts and weekend hours.
Additional information is provided in Chapter VIII, Job/Housing Balance, of the Regional Housing Plan.