I joined my Republican colleagues yesterday to unveil a set of concrete steps to address Wisconsin’s growing housing shortage.

According to a 2019 report titled Falling Behind: Wisconsin’s Workforce Housing Shortage, communities across Wisconsin are facing severe housing shortages. Areas with growing populations, like those in the Northeastern part of the state, are being hit especially hard, with many reporting major scarcity and affordability problems.

These issues have been further compounded by a series of other factors. The National Association of Home Builders estimates that excessive and outdated regulations add an average of $93,870 to the final price of a home – or increase the total by approximately 23.8 percent. Rents are also growing faster than incomes, and the cost of construction materials is increasing.

While I’ve authored and supported a number of measures in the past to help slow this worsening trend, Wisconsin has created 75% fewer lots and 55% fewer new homes than pre-recession averages. The median age for first-time home buyers in the state has risen to 33. Wisconsin is also running a migration deficit with individuals aged 20-24 and has a lower homeownership rate for households ages 25-34 and 35-44 than all neighboring states, except Illinois.

Included in the package of bills introduced yesterday are reforms to cut bureaucratic red tape and other burdensome regulations, reform outdated industry practices, and equip families with greater resources to build, restore and renovate their homes. There was also a renewed call to create more housing tax credits through existing legislation.

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