Report 3 from the Affordable Housing Conference in La Crosse

I am back in Wausau after returning from the annual conference of The Wisconsin Collaborative for Affordable Housing, which this year was held in La Crosse. I didn’t get last night’s blog post up last night because the WiFi at the Holiday Inn was having issues (or maybe my computer was having issues, either way I had no internet access except for my phone – and there was no way I was going to try to type out a blog post using a Blackberry keyboard).

Day 2 of “A Home For Everyone 2010: Opening the Door to Opportunity” was really a good day. After Day 1 started with a good share of landlord bashing (especially for-profit landlords), many of the discussions and topics covered today were absent that uncomfortable bias.

The main speaker for the morning general session was Jan Moore who came up from North Carolina to address our group. She is a Program Specialist for the National Center for Homeless Education. It was a very interesting presentation on homeless rates, kinds of homelessness, the effect that this has on children and their education, and the vicious cycle that causes. It is amazing to look at the statistics how being homeless, even for a little while, effects a child’s education. It was also eye opening how different agencies define “being homeless” differently. Which means as bad as the HUD estimates are for people being homeless at some point in time, the ACTUAL numbers are significantly higher. (For example, HUD does count people in homeless shelters, but does not count “couch surfers”, people who “double up” with relatives or friends.)

I did go to the sessions I talked about in my #2 blog post from the conference. The morning breakout session talked about the hurdles faced by the Dept of Corrections when they try to integrate people back into society. They talked about programs they have in some counties to help not only with helping to find housing, but also to help find a job. The same session also talked about placement into housing of people coming out of nursing home situations. Because I work very closely with North Central Health Care with some of my housing units (as well as two different private care providers providing similar programs), I already understood some of the hurdles they face.

The late morning session about “The Current Status of Markets” was the best of the entire conference for me personally. There were two representatives there from WHEDA (including one who did the underwriting for the Trolley Flats apartment project) and a representative from Baker Tilly (most of us still know them as Virchow Krause) who does market research studies for WHEDA projects (as well as for-profit projects as a part of bank underwriting).

The biggest question that I had was when looking at a potential project, does WHEDA look not only on the potential future success of the project, but the effect that project has on other housing in the area, both other WHEDA funded projects and for-profit market rate projects? And the answer was yes, that is something that is taken into consideration. I also learned that WHEDA has been trying to put a little more focus on rehab and updating of existing units versus new construction. (However, taking an existing, high-vacancy market-rate project and converting it to a WHEDA-funded project is still something that really doesn’t fit within their current programs.)

The lunch session had the WAA/WHRLC lobbyist addressing the group about the current political climate as it relates to affordable housing issues, and housing in general and also some of the key races to watch and who some of the key legislative players are.

By 3 PM, the conference was over (I didn’t come back with any door prizes, but then again I have plenty of doors – LOL). And, by 6 PM I was back in Wausau.

I apologize again for missing the Dr Rent Radio Show for the 2nd time in 3 weeks, however I will be back on the air as normal next Thursday.

Until then…. HAPPY RENTING


About drrent

Wausau, Wisconsin Landlord, past president of the Wisconsin Apartment Association, Host of the Dr Rent Radio Show on WNRB-LP, 93.3 FM, Wausau, WI
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