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The Regional Housing Plan contains 50 recommendations to support decent and affordable housing for all residents of Southeastern Wisconsin.

Regional Housing Plan

Securing a decent home within a suitable living environment represents a highly desired, but often elusive, goal for many individuals and families residing in Southeastern Wisconsin. The first Regional Housing Plan was adopted in 1975 to aid the efforts of those in the public and private sectors who focus on housing and housing-related issues on a day-to-day basis. In 2013, the Commission adopted a new Regional Housing Plan.


Implementing the Regional Housing Plan would:

  • Help provide decent and affordable housing for all residents
  • Help address the concentration of minority and low-income populations in central cities and increase diversity in all communities
  • Support economic development by providing housing affordable to the existing and future workforce
  • Help provide enough accessible housing to meet the needs of people with disabilities
  • Help provide enough subsidized housing to meet the needs of very low-income households
  • Help address dilapidated, substandard, and unsafe housing
  • Promote more compact urban development that is more efficient and economical to provide with public services


The plan includes 50 recommendations organized by six major topic areas:

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Affordable Housing

The Regional Housing Plan recommends developing and maintaining affordable housing throughout Southeastern Wisconsin. The plan includes recommendations to help increase the supply of affordable market-rate (non-subsidized) housing in the Region through:

  • Community Planning and Zoning
  • Property Tax Alternatives and Reduced Impact Fees
  • Property Maintenance
  • Incentives for Affordable Housing
  • Housing Financing

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Fair Housing/Housing Discrimination

Federal and State laws make housing discrimination illegal against any individual in one or more of several named protected classes. The Regional Housing Plan examines and reports on available evidence of housing discrimination and summarizes legal requirements regarding fair housing practices. Implementing fair housing practices would help ensure that all households have an opportunity to reside near their workplace and community destinations such as schools, health care centers, parks, and shopping areas. More information on housing discrimination and fair housing practices can be found in Chapter VI of the plan.

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Job/Housing Balance

One of the challenges facing the Region relates to the imbalance between jobs and housing, particularly with respect to adequate supplies of affordable housing stock near emerging employment centers. The Regional Housing Plan analyzed this situation and includes recommendations to address imbalances between where jobs are located and where housing is available. The plan recommends that communities projected to have a shortage of workforce housing analyze the relationship between job wages and housing costs. Ways to address the shortage should then be considered based on the type of shortage. More information on the job/housing balance can be found in Chapter VIII of the plan. In addition, the findings by sewered community are available in this summary of the job/housing balance analysis and this map of projected job/housing imbalances.

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Accessible Housing

The Regional Housing Plan describes construction practices and legal requirements that tend to increase the number of new housing units that are accessible to people with disabilities. In addition to Federal and State laws that require certain types of housing units to be accessible, there are construction concepts that can be applied to all housing types. This includes design concepts such as universal design and visitability. Because the incidence of disabilities increases as a person ages, the need for accessible housing is intensifying due to the aging “Baby Boom” generation. More information on accessible housing can be found in Chapter IV of the plan.

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Best Housing Practices

The Regional Housing Plan describes best housing practices not only in the Region, but throughout the State and Nation. The plan includes two areas of focus:

  • Programs and methods that have been successful in producing affordable housing, including fair share programs, assisted housing mobility programs, land use control practices, tax increment financing, housing trust funds, housing collaboratives, HUD community planning and development programs, and faith-based and other private housing programs.
  • Best practices in housing and neighborhood design, including environmentally responsible construction techniques, environmentally responsible development concepts (transit-oriented development, traditional neighborhood development, brownfield redevelopment, and sound land and water management practices), eco-municipality framework, crime prevention through environmental design, accessible housing practices, and development design standards.

More information on best housing practices can be found in Chapter XI of the plan.

Housing Trust Funds

Addressing the Region’s housing needs will require greater public sector coordination, greater private sector participation, and interjurisdictional collaboration that address both the supply side of the equation and the demand side. Housing trust funds are typically established by local, county, or state governments to provide a predictable, stable source of revenue reserved solely for addressing affordable housing needs. The Regional Housing Plan recommends establishing a regional Housing Trust Fund for Southeastern Wisconsin.

Housing Foreclosures

One of the results of the national economic recession and related housing crisis that began in late 2007 was a significant increase in foreclosures and abandoned homes in Southeastern Wisconsin. Community problems tend to intensify if foreclosures and abandoned homes become concentrated in a neighborhood. The Regional Housing Plan identifies foreclosures as a component of the regional housing problem addressed by the plan, particularly since they have had a disproportionately adverse impact on the Region’s central city neighborhoods.

Impacts of Home Building on Local Governments and Economy

As part of the planning process, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) prepared an analysis of the economic impacts of home building in the Region. The analysis also included a comparison of costs to revenue for county and local governments associated with developing new housing.

Housing Affordability Reports

Commission staff can help cities and villages with populations of 10,000 people or more prepare housing affordability reports as required by 2017 Wisconsin Act 243. Contact us to learn how staff can assist in preparing these reports.

Annual Implementation Reports

The Regional Housing Plan recommends monitoring plan implementation and reporting the results every one, five, or 10 years, in accordance with a monitoring schedule included in the plan. Links to annual Regional Housing Plan Implementation Reports are posted here as they become available.